The four-minute mile is the standard elite runners chase. Gary Martin of Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.)
became the first Pennsylvania high school runner to run a sub-four when he posted a 3:57.98 at the Philadelphia Catholic League championships over the weekend.
Martin, who owns four PIAA titles and two indoor national titles, joins elite company in becoming the 14th high school runner to break the four-minute mile mark. His time is the fastest in an all-prep race, besting the 3:55.3 run by Kansan Jim Ryun in 1965.
"It's crazy, I don't think it's set in yet," Martin told The Philadelphia Inquirer
. "It started to set in during my cool-down run but it was a crazy feeling and I don't think it's fully set in yet. Just sitting back and realizing three years ago I had never run a mile and the 800 [meters] was a long distance for me ... but I never thought I would take it this far."
After running a 4:01.04 on April 29 at the Penn Relays, Martin on Saturday posted the fastest outdoor mile since 2001. Only Alan Webb and Ryun have run faster outdoor miles. Webb is the American record holder (3:46.91) and ran a 3:53.43 in high school, and Ryun was the first prep runner to post a sub-four. Hobbs Kessler (3:57.66) and Drew Hunter (3:57.81) both ran faster times indoors.
"The company that I'm in is pretty incredible," Martin told TrackandFieldNews.com
. "The 14 guys who have broken 4:00 is a historic group of names. To be surrounded by that group of people only builds me self-confidence."
Martin, who told the Inquirer he felt good at 1,200 meters and knew he had "another fast lap in me," is headed to the University of Virginia in the fall.
"I mean that was the big one, four minutes, that's a big barrier for a high school miler. Now it's just about getting faster, running as fast as I can, so I wouldn't say there is a specific time," Martin said. "I'm just going to try and enjoy the rest of my high school career."
Saturday, Martin ran the first leg in 59.67 seconds, the second in 58.79, the third in 59.87 and the final in 59.62.
Martin also won the 800 Saturday with a meet record time of 1:51.29 and anchored the runner-up 1,600-relay team. He was named the meet’s outstanding boys track performer.
Earlier this season, Martin broke the Pennsylvania record in the 3,200-meter run (8:41.57).
* Eric Frantz of MaxPreps also contributed to this report.