BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer email@example.com
EUGENE, Ore. -- Stockdale senior Blake Haney won't attend classes at Oregon until the fall, but his first valuable lesson came a few months early, on the track at Hayward Field on Saturday in the Prefontaine Classic.
Haney, with hopes of becoming the sixth American high schooler ever to break four minutes, ran a 4:10.41 in the International Mile, well behind the rest of a fast pack.
"I'm not let down," said Haney, a two-event CIF state champion who will run for Oregon. "I think other people watching the race might have been more let down than I was. I had a lot of fun here. I'm going to look back on this as a positive and take some lessons from it."
The time was Haney's season best at any equivalent distance but behind his mile personal best of 4:07.78. That came despite a 1,200-meter split of under 3:03, a personal record at that distance.
The problem was the race easily was the fastest in which Haney had ever run, with the other 12 runners all under four minutes, including nine under 3:55.
By the time Haney came to the midway point of the race, he was already fading, meaning he had no one to draft or push him to go faster.
"They just kept going and going, and I finally just cracked," he said. "... I went through 800 meters in two minutes, and I was still six meters off the pack -- and I was on a four-minute pace.
"It was just really fast, and I had no one to run with, which made it that much tougher. It just wasn't my day."
The winner, reigning Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano, ran 3:52.41. That was the best time in the world this year until the Bowerman Mile was run later in the day at Hayward Field, with Ayanleh Souleiman of Djibouti winning in 3:47.32, the fastest mile ever run on U.S. soil.
In the middle of all of this was the 18-year-old Haney.
"It was an awesome experience," he said. "All the guys before the race were really encouraging. That took some of the nerves off for me that they were so welcoming."
But it didn't make the race any easier.
"Unfortunately, the guys were too good and they were all in great shape," Ken Haney said. "They just kind of ran away from him. But you know, that's what happens. What a great experience."
Now Haney has five days to prepare for title defense in the 1,600 meters (a mile is about 1,609) and the 3,200 meters at the CIF State Championships in Clovis. He'll run a preliminary in the 1,600 on Friday and finals in both events Saturday.
A week after that, on June 14, Haney will run one last mile as a high school athlete. That will be at the Dream Mile in New York, in a race that will be all high schoolers.
Perhaps Haney will run four minutes there. Either way, he can look back on the Prefontaine Classic and, even with some disappointment, treat it as an experience to remember.
"He can move on with these guys, and at some point he can run with these guys," Ken Haney said. "Obviously it wasn't right now, but just being around them and getting in there with him, he saw what it was like. It's going to serve him well in the future."