When the idea was formulated a few months ago to assemble a field of some the the best milers from throughout the region for one race, not sure anyone quite expected what happened on Friday night.
In the boys’ race, there was the hype of a potential sub four-minute mile. It was also predicted that maybe a few could come close to 4:10 based on their all-time bests.
But what happened under the lights at Marshfield High at the inaugural BSR Elite Scholastic Mile was more than just a special night. It was simply spectacular!
Under ideal conditions, the gathering of 100-plus that came to watch the invite-only event on the Rams’ pristine oval were treated to a classic, the Creme Brule of races . The girls’ competition did not disappoint with Newton South’s Amelia Everett leading four other runners under five minutes with a winning time and PR of 4:47.97. That race proved to be the perfect opening act for what would transpire when the 13 runners from the boys’ field toed the line.
After more than three and a half laps, it was still anyone’s race. A pack of at least a half dozen runners were still in contention for that golden prize at the end. In an epic duel down the final stretch, Deven Kipyego of Saint Raphael Academy (RI) was able to muster up enough energy to hold off gritty Byron Grevious of New Hampshire at the finish line to win with a time of 4:07.60, a quarter of a second ahead of the Phillips Exeter Academy junior, who was timed in 4:07.85. St. John’s Prep’s Nathan Lopez placed third at 4:08.28. He was followed closely by Brimmer & May’s Brian Gamble (fourth, 4:08.94). In all, seven ran under 4:11 and most left the track with major PRs.
“It was a great first year for the BSR Scholastic Mile with some ideal conditions,” said event founder and Marshfield coach Dennis Sheppard. “I was really happy with the depth of each race with five girls sub five minutes and seven boys 4:10 or better. We will really be looking to grow this meet in the future.”
Kipyego went into the race with intentions of becoming the second runner in the last two weeks, to break the four-minute mile. The Iowa State signee, who was second in the mile at the New Balance Nationals less than two months ago, came in with a best of 4:00.60 and a resume that included two other races where he went 4:02 or faster this past winter.
But after an opening 400m, passed in 61 seconds, Kipyego could sense that a sub-4 might not be possible. It was something that didn’t quite catch him by surprise after experiencing some quad and groin issues earlier in the week.
“After my workout (on Saturday) and a long run, my (quads) were kind of bothering me so I went to get it massaged out,” Kipyego said. “I couldn’t do a workout on Tuesday so I moved it to Wednesday. After Tuesday looking at it, he said it’s pretty bad, but he said, ‘We’ll get you back, we’ll get you ready to come back, do a workout, we’ll massage it out.’ We did a workout, all 60 (seconds), eight 400s. It was looking great.”
While the issues he was dealing with during the week, didn’t quite come back on Friday, Kipyego didn’t feel 100 percent during the race. On a night where perfection is kind of a perquisite to achieving a milestone of breaking four minutes, that’s not a good sign.
With still a bunch of runners behind him, most running in single file, Kipyego passed through the 800m mark at 2:03 with the aid of pacer and sub four-minute miler, AJ Ernst, a Middlesex School alum and former Virginia and Providence College standout.
Kipyego realized at that point that the focus might solely have to be on a win rather than negative splits.
“I wish I could have gone under 60 (seconds) at the 400m, but overall I don’t think I would have been able to go much faster because I wasn’t able to react on that third lap when he sped up,” he said. “It is what it is.”
On the outside lane, Grevious was the biggest threat to upset the Saints’ runner in the closing stages with Lopez still very much in the mix behind Kipyego. Giving it everything he had in the last 50m of the race, the SRA runner was able to secure the victory and establish a facility record at Marshfield.
“The last 400 meters I just wanted to stay in the lead the whole 400 meters knowing that by the last 100 meters I had to pick it up because I didn’t want anyone to take the turn on my and cut me off,” he said. “Coming down the last 100 meters, I looked to the right a little bit and saw a pack of guys and just said I got to move. I know I’m faster than all these guys. I got to use my speed to my advantage.”
Grevious crossed the line with a more than four-second PR. He gave it his best shot to try and pull off the upset.
“With like 300 (meters) to go, I started to fall back a little bit,” he said. “Mentally, I don’t know what happened. I shut down and should have pressed a little bit more. I was boxed in a little bit on the inside and Devan pushed ahead and that gave me a little opening. Around the bend for the last 100, I kind of sling-shotted around and trusted my kick. I almost had it but Devan held me off. The crowd was great in pushing me through.”
The Eagles’ Lopez, like most of the other competitors, was able to attain his goal at Friday’s race. He went with the intention of dipping under 4:10 and chopped a whopping five seconds off his previous best of 4:13.30.
“This is kind of exactly what i was hoping for,” he said. “I wanted to be in that 4:06-4:08 range. That’s what I thought I could run. I went out there and executed the plan pretty well. I wanted to be out (at 400m) at 61 (seconds), which is kind of right where we were. Then from there I just kind of raced the pack, (to) see what I can do. I think I ran the middle part of the race pretty well.”
Other MA finishers included Framingham’s Sam Burgess (sixth, 4:10.28), Westford Academy’s Paul Bergeron (seventh, 4:10.62), North Andover’s Ryan Connolly (eighth, 4:13.34), Newton North’s Tyler Tubman (11th, 4:14.95), Uxbridge’s Aidan Ross (12th, 4:20.51) and Burlington’s Rithihk Prakash (13th, 4:25.02)
In the girls’ race. the Lions’ Everett led from start to finish and won comfortably by 40 meters over Abby Belville of Hamilton-Wenham, who was timed in 4:55.79 for second. Brookline’s Camille Jordan placed third overall with a best of 4:56.61. Rounding out the top five were Phillips Exeter’s Tenley Nelson (fourth, 4:58.82) and Wellesley’s Charlotte Tuxbury (fifth, 4:59.50).
With help of a pacer, Everett passed through the 400m split in 71 seconds. By the backstretch of her second lap, the Stanford signee was able to create a good amount of separation from the string-out pack, including Jordan, who was in second at the time. Everett was 2:24 at 800m and by the time she reached the 1,200m checkpoint at 3:38, was well on her way to a PR performance and a time that currently ranks No. 10 in the country.
Other MA finishers included Lexington’s Ava Criniti (sixth, 5:01.87), Marshfield’s Eleanor Angeles-Whitfield (seventh, 5:03.55), Brookline’s Jordan Liss-Riordan (eighth, 5:06.00), Wellesley’s Lily Jin (ninth, 5:06.57), Wellesley’s Emma Tuxbury (tenth, 5:06.79),and Marshfield’s Ava LoVuolo (11th, 5:07.75).