Last year's crop of middle-distance runners was the deepest in years. Jason Pyrah of Willard (Mo.) High, Paul Vandegrift of Archbishop Kennedy High in Conshohocken, Pa., and George Kersh of Pearl (Miss.) High all showed themselves to be extremely talented and all were expected to give the magic barrier a scare. However, when the season was over, Pyrah's best time was 4:04.25 and Vandegrift's 4:04.65. Kersh became the first high schooler to break 1:47 for the 800 (1:46.58), but he managed only 4:08.17 for the mile.
This year's class is not as strong. The fastest schoolboy miler in the country in 1987 was junior Bob Kennedy of Westerville ( Ohio) North, who ran 4:11.96. That's respectable, but hardly inspires much hope that we'll see a four-minute mile by a schoolboy in the near future.
In December 1963, on the eve of the Golden Age of high school middle-distance running, Timmons made a bold prediction. "I feel certain," he said, "we are just a few years away from witnessing a high school boy not only running four minutes but also losing the race as well to another prep athlete." Today, Timmons is convinced that the major barrier to someone's running four minutes is psychological. Unfortunately, he says, that barrier grows more intimidating with each passing year.
"It's getting remote now," says Timmons. "It's been so long that people have forgotten what it's like to do it."
And to see it done.