A high school senior has broken a track and field record set in 1965 by running a sub-4 minute mile during a high school race, without a pacer. Gary Martin has gotten extremely close to breaking this record during other track meets this year, but at the Pennsylvania Catholic League Championship (PCL) on Monday, he finally ran a mile in 3:57:98.
Martin, a senior at Archbishop Wood High School, has committed to attend University of Virginia after he graduates. His high school school celebrated the historic run on Twitter, writing: “Congratulations to Wood’s very own Gary Martin on running his mile in 3:57:98 at the PCL Track & Field Championship!!! Gary, you have worked so hard to achieve this goal, your Viking family couldn’t be prouder.”
The first high school student to run a sub-4 mile was Jim Ryun in 1964. After he set the record, he did it five more times before graduating. In 1965, his best time during a high school race was a 3:58.3 mile.
His mile time wasn’t beat until 2001, when high schooler Alan Webb ran a 3:53.43 mile at Nike’s Prefontaine Classic. Both Ryun and Webb went on to be Olympic athletes.
While 14 high school students have run sub-4 minute miles, their races did not have the same conditions as Ryun and Martin’s. Other runners competed with pacers or “rabbits” to help the keep up their speed, or their races were not high school-only.
Only five high school athletes have ran sub-4 minute miles during a high school-only competition. And before Martin, only one high school athlete did it without the help of a pacer. That was Ryun.
On Monday, Martin broke Ryun’s high school record – by less than a second.
Earlier this year, Martin ran 4:01 mile at the Penn Relays, and at 4:00 mile at the Explorers Invitation.
On Twitter, Martin shared a screenshot of a text he sent his coach before the meet: “Am I crazy for thinking about trying to break 4 at PCL champs if the mile is good since the mile is first?”
His coach said he was physically ready, and he could make it a race day decision. Looks like the choice was worth it.