After receiving my 2009 All-Time World Indoor List of the records and best performances compiled by Ed Gordon, I asked myself, “What are the best United States high school middle distance indoor records?”
This question popped into my mind because I had just completed an article on the 2009 Simplot Games, the premiere high school indoor meet in the West, and one of the top gatherings of prep talent in the nation.
Gordon’s 221-page book is an incredible collection of every world indoor record with an extensive listing of best times following the world-record performances. This sort of publication is a gold mine of information for a person like me, who just happens to be a member of the Track and Field Writers of America (TAFWA).
Having been a track fan, follower and participant for more than 58 years, reading the records brought back some great memories for me. Even the high school list is too long to publish all of the records in Gordon’s compilation, so I focused on the middle distance events because that is my area of knowledge and expertise.
Two factors should be considered in sharing these impressive high school performances with you. First, there are very few indoor competitions compared to outdoor competitions, so there are a lot fewer opportunities to break records. Second, indoor tracks can vary from an old time 11-lap track made up of cinders like I used to run on, and a modern 8-lap, 200-meter track made up of banked-boards or an artificial, composition surface. That said, here are the athletes whose stars are still shining:
First is Alan Webb, who competed for South Lakes High School in Reston, VA. Webb holds the indoor records in three events-the 1000-Meter in 2:23.68, the 1500-Meter in 3:43.27 and the Mile in 3:59.86, all set in 2001. The 1500 record was set enroute to the Mile record. Running a sub-4 minute mile as a prep runner is no mean task, and doing it indoors is even more difficult.
Before he graduated from high school, Webb would also set the national prep record in the outdoor Mile (3:53.43) and outdoor 1500 Meter (3:38.26). Ultimately, he would set the American record in the outdoor Mile (3:46.91) in 2007.
Another running legend, Gerry Lindgren of Rogers High School in Spokane, WA, holds two of the records-the 3000 Meter in 8:06.3 and the 2 Mile in 8:40.0, both set in the same race in 1964, 45 years ago and never bested the best of the best since. After graduating from high school in 1964, Lindgren would gain worldwide notice by beating two seasoned Russian runners to win the 10,000-Meter event in the US-USSR Track Meet in Los Angeles.
While running for Washington State University, Lindgren would win 11 NCAA championships and to this day remains only 1 of 2 runners to ever beat Steve Prefontaine in an NCAA Championship, winning the 1969 NCAA Cross-Country individual title when Prefontaine finished 3rd.
Lindgren would ultimately share the world 6-Mile record (27:11.6) with Billy Mills, the 1964 Olympic 10,000-Meter Champion and Gold-Medal winner.
Dave Merrick of Lincoln-Way High School in New Lenox, IL set the 3-Mile record by running 13:37.0 in 1971. Brad Hudson of South Eugene (OR) High School set the 5,000-Meter record with a 14:29.28 in 1971. To really appreciate Merrick’s indoor record, you only need to know that he ran back-to-back-to-back miles at a 4:32 pace; that is a lot of laps on a small track.
Two other records are of note. Michael Granville of Bell Gardens (CA) High School ran 1:50.55 in the 800 Meter in 1995, and Greg Gibson of Connell (WA) High School ran 2:10.1 for the 1,000 Yard in 1972.
Among the girls’ records, no name shines brighter than Mary Decker of Orange (CA) High School. Decker still holds the 800 Meter (2:01.8) and 880-Yard (2:02.4) records set in the same race in 1974. Those two indoor marks were world records at the time; she also set the 1,000-Meter world record (2:26.7) that same year as a prep runner.
Decker (now Mary Decker Slaney) was very popular, very talented and a fierce competitor on the track. Decker would go on to set 36 national records and 17 world records. She is the only American runner, man or woman, to hold all American records from 800 to 10,000-meters at the same time.
Decker still holds the American records for 800 Meters, 1,500 Meters, 1 Mile, 2,000 Meters and 3,000 Meters.
Another high school indoor record-holder who would become even more famous was Lynn Jennings of Bromfield High School in Harvard, MA. Jennings set the 1,500-Meter mark by running 4:18.9 in 1978.
Jennings would go on to win 3 World Cross-Country Championships, 9 U. S. National Cross-Country Championships, and become the bronze medalist in the 10,000 Meters at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. Her Olympic time (31:19.89) in the 10,000 Meters set an American record. Her American road-race record for the 10,000 (31:06) still stands.
Melody Fairchild of Boulder (CO) High School holds two national indoor high school records-the 3,000 Meter in 9:17.7 and the 2 Mile in 9:55.92, both set in the same race in 1992. She would go on to become a repeat Foot Locker National High School Cross-Country Champion and still remains the course record holder. Fairchild was the first high school girl to break 10 minutes for 2 Miles.
Other indoor girl records were set by:
Diana Richburg of Lansingburgh High School in Troy, NY in the 1,000 Yard-2:26.3.
Sarah Bowman of Fauquier High School in Warrenton, VA in the 1,000 Meter-2:43.40.
Debbie Heald of Neff High School in Miranda, CA in the Mile-4:38.5.
Cathy Schiro of Dover (NH) High School in the 3 Mile-16:20.9.
Brianna Jackucewicz of Howell North High School in Farmingdale, NJ in the 5,000 Meter-16:43.02.
Copyright © 2009 Ed Bagley