Walker St. John Loses Shoe At 1K, Still Wins 1,600m

Walker St. John leads the Boys UIL 5A 1,600m through the finish line


The boys 1,600m event was one of the most anticipated races of the meet. It was stacked with some of Texas' best distance runners and the question was whether it was going to be a race from the start or a strategic event. It wasn't long after the gun was shot until it was clear  we would see four laps of mind games and matching moves. 

As the first lap ensued and the runners began to funnel in, Carter Gordy from Montgomery Lake Creek hit a split of 1:05.79 and remained the pacer through the second lap coming passed at a comfortable 2:13.79 and was followed closely by Christopher Riley from Austin McCallum.

On the second lap Walker St. John , the 2020 UIL 5A cross country state champion from Grapevine was submissive to the slow pace and tight pack. He found himself more toward the back end of the nine man field. At the 1K mark, that is when the unexpected happened. His heal was stepped on and he lost his shoe. That should have turned into a big disadvantage to his chances of winning. With Lubbock senior Isaac Alonzo in the race, the  3,200m winner earlier in the morning, that mistep could have cost him the race with so many capable runners.

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But, he persevered as he made his way to the front of the pack with one shoe shortly after the half-mile mark. Not only did St. John take the lead in the race he pressed the pace with his one shoe. After splitting the first two laps in 2:14.32, he would negative spit the third lap by going 1:05.19 and moving up six places since the loss of his shoe.

At the bell lap, there were seven boys with in one second of one another; with the fatigue from running with uneven strides and no traction with his foot strike, St. John was faced to have to out kick every other runner without one of his spikes. No spike, no problem as he continued to lead and press the pace matching challenges from the other runners. 

With 100m to go, there were six runner in full kick mode and all of them capable of unleashing race defining kicks. Who's to say the didn't have them this day; they all changed gears and pressed towards the finish line, only to watch one shoe and one black sock out sprint them to take the title i 4:18.53.

Although the performance wasn't blazing fast and won't be remembered for it's time, the race itself will be remembered. After the strategy and mind game 2:14.32 pace to start the race, it took losing a shoe to ignite a 2:04.21 second half split to crown a state champion.

Riley pushed himself to his limits to pass through the finish line with the time o 4:18.78. Foster Wilfong from Boerne Champion followed in third with a 4:19.17 to add his second podium finish of the day.