Season Of The Milers Continues At Festival Of Miles

Southlake Carroll sophomore Caden Leonard approaches the starting line after his introduction at the 2024 RunningLane Track Championships

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As the school track and field seasons come to an end, that is when the post/championship season and national level meets begin for the high school track and field.

Texas is an interesting state for post season track and field. In the sprints, jumps, and for some throwers you have boys who are going back to football as soon as their competition at the district, area, regional, or state levels are complete.

Some track and field focused athletes wait out the weeks in between state and the national championship events. Other track and field athletes begin their summer club season.

There is one track discipline that is trying to get their post season running in and over as soon as they can; that would be elite high school distance runners.

When track season commences, distance runners are on a clock to get ready for cross country season. Some elect to take a break off from running, whether that is a week at best for some leading up to a couple of weeks for most others.

Whatever the off time taken or not, the transition begins to go from faster type of track runs to slower endurance type long runs as they begin to increase their mileage week-by-week.

For the elite level athletes who are looking to get the most of their leg speed and peak fitness shape, they'll continue to run for personal best times in the 800m, 1,600m (mile), and 3,200m (two-mile) races before putting a bow on the end of the track season.

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RunningLane Track Nationals boys mile finals heat 1

Boys Milers

This weekend, that will be the scenario for several Texas half-milers and milers. The TTFCA Meet of Champions followed by the RunningLane Track Championships (Huntsville, Alabama) were the first two stops for several elite Texas half-milers and distance runners. This weekend, the Festival of Miles (FOM) in St. Louis, Missouri is next.

Some of Texas' most accomplished high school distance runners will compete this weekend.

The duo of Caden Leonard and Adam Burlison will carry momentum from last weekend's RunningLane into the FOM.

Just days ago, the two 1,600m state champions both ran TX all-time best runs. Leonard place fourth overall in Alabama to the tune of 4:04.02 in the mile. Not only was it a personal best for him, it catapulted both him and the Southlake Carroll program into all-time.

Leonard now only trails Texas greats Reed Brown, Southlake Carroll - 3:59.30, Sam Worley, Comal (New Braunfels) Canyon - 4:00.61, Steve Magness, Klein Oak - 4:01.02, and Adam Burlison, Grapevine - 4:03.85, placing him No. 5 on the Texas all-time list.

Last month, his UIL 6A win in the 1,600m also moved Carroll HS from tied (New Braunfels Canyon, San Antonio Jay and The Woodlands) for the second most state championships in the event with three to tied for the most with Friendswood and Turkey Valley.

Burlison was right behind Leonard in fifth place at RunningLane with a time of 4:04.56. At 4:03.85 from the 2023 RunningLane meet, Burlison is the fourth fastest Texas boy of all-time, not to mention a two-time UIL 5A state champion in the 1,600m. 

This weekend, along with Leonard, Burlison will face a field just as difficult or even more so than last week's. Either one or both of them could move up on the Texas all-time performance list.

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Girls Milers

In the high school girls championship mile event, it'll be Flower Mound graduate Nicole Humphries racing it out. This will be Humphries' first race since the UIL 6A state meet where she won the 800m state title. The University of Oregon signee will soon ship off for her freshman year in college, but the FOM is one of several events that will come prior to that. 

Last season at this event, she placed ninth overall in a 4:46.86 personal best. Wy back in mid-March at the Texas Distance Festival in the 1,600m, Humphries ran a 4:43.51 personal best, which is ahead of last year's FOM personal best pace.

The girls elite mile race will feature middle school indoor mile national record holder Elin Latta. She ran 4:51 indoors to break the previous record and just last week at RunningLane, she ran 4:49.08 against high level high school girls.

This weekend's race will still be high level running against many state championship winners, but it will not be against some of the faster girls. This just might play into the hands of the younger Latta a little better than the championship heat. 

Latta previously ran listed under the San Antonio Patriots Homeschool Athletics and was listed as a Texas athlete at the RunningLane meet. Earlier in the year and this weekend, she is listed as a Colorado homeschool athlete.

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2024 TTFCA Meet of Champions girls 800m finals heat 2

Boys and Girls 800m 

Adin Lathrop (Bridgeland) is who has eight 1:52 and under runs this outdoor season is on a fast streak. At the TTFCA Meet of Champions, he was finally able to get a 1:50 on his resume when he ran 1:50.58. That was over a second faster than his previous personal best in the event.

Last weekend, the momentum continued for Lathrop as he cracked the 1:50 barrier when he posted a new PB of 1:49.76 in his third place finish.

He'll look to continue his hot running this weekend at the FOM. He is again listed in his 800m specialty. With a couple of other 1:49 seed times and multiple 1:50s, this should be a good equation for him to possibly run even faster.

The girls 800m race will feature two Texans who are looking to continue their season of fast running.

Sophia Bendet (Randolph) captured her second UIL 3A 800m state title earlier this month and then turned things up a notch at the TTFCA Meet of Champions. Indoors, the Randolph junior ran a 2:09.03 at the Nike Indoor Nationals for a third place finish. 

It was at the UIL state meet when she dropped her first sub 2:10 outdoor run in 2:09.99, but she quickly lowered that at TTFCA when she blazed her 2:07.65 PB.

Faith Murphy (Austin Anderson) is also on a roll. She ran two sub 2:10 consecutively with the latest one being a 2:07.14 PB. State was Murphy's last race, so expect her to be well rested and ready to race.

The girls 800m field has a 2:06 seed and another 2:07 see in addition to the Texas girls. It will also be laced with other 2:08 and 2:09 runners.