May 27, 2001 at Eugene OR

Prefontaine Classic

Alan Webb's strategy

He won't try to run with El Gherrouj,
but he hopes to get closer to Jim Ryun's record 3:55.3

by Pearl Watts


RESTON VA 5/24/01 - South Lakes senior Alan Webb leaves Thursday on a 3,000 mile plane trip
which he hopes will culminate in one the fastest, if not the fastest, mile
ever run by a high school athlete.

The Webbmaster is scheduled to line up on Sunday at approximately 3:42 p.m.
EDT in the Prefontaine Classic's Bowerman Mile at the University of Oregon's
legendary Hayward Field against some of the fastest milers in the world,
including the world record holder in the mile at 3 minutes, 43.13 seconds,
Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco.

Webb's goal will not be to run at the same pace with the likes of El
Guerrouj, or 2000 Olympic Games 1,500 meter bronze medalist Bernard Lagat of
Kenya or even some of the top U.S. mile/1,500 meter runners such as Seneca
Lassiter, Bryan Berryhill or Jason Pyrah, but will instead hope that their
very quick pacesetting will enable him to equal his feat from the indoor
season of breaking four minutes in the mile and see how close he can get to
the national high school record of 3:55.3 set by Jim Ryun of Wichita, Kansas
in 1965.

Webb, who posted the fastest high school mile time in the country last year
at 4:03.33 in late May before a leg injury curtailed his outdoor season, has
already wowed the running world many times this year. The South Lakes phenom
became the first high schooler to ever break four minutes indoors with his
3:59.86 in New York City in January and in so doing became only the fourth
high schooler ever, and first in 34 years to accomplish that mark.
Webb has followed that up in the past month with the fastest time in the
nation this year by a prepster in the mile at 4:01.87 and anchored the
Seahawks to impressive victories in the distance medley relay and the 4x800
relay at the prestigious Penn Relays with his anchor split of 1:49.2 in the
4x800 finals the fastest ever by a high schooler at Penn.

Webb then just about outdid himself at the Concorde District Championships
this past Thursday where he won three events in the space of an hour and
twenty minutes.

Webb first won the 1,600 meter run in an exceptionally fast time of 4:06.74
but what was amazing was the style in which he did it. The lead group of
talented Concorde District distance runners in Matt Maline of Oakton, Richard
Smith of South Lakes, Phil Gaeta of Oakton and Herndon's Rasheed Thompson
went through the first 800 meters in 2:06-2:07 with Webb trailing the field
by more than fifty meters.

When Webb hit the 800 mark, he also looked down at his watch, hit that and
took off. The Seahawks senior scintillated on the third lap, passing the lead
group in the next 300 meters en route to a 55 second third lap. Webb then
barely let up on the final lap in recording a 57 second split to post an
extraordinary 2:14-1:52 negative split.

Webb, who was never in the race because he was either too far behind or too
far ahead, then saw Smith run a personal best of 4:14.91, Gaeta a personal
best of 4:17.41, Maline finish third in 4:17.75 and smooth striding sophomore
Thompson cut a whopping thirteen seconds off his p.r. with his time of
4:17.79 as five runners ducked below 4:18 from a seven school district race.
Webb then followed that up 45 minutes later with a win in the 400 dash in a
workmanlike 49.29 and thirty five minutes after the 400 ran a personal best
time of 1:49.53 to win the 800, which is the number three time in the country
at this point.

Webb said of his district performances, "that may have been harder than
running the 3:59.86 in the winter since it was a triple but I felt great on
all of them except the final 200 meters of the 800. It gives me some added
confidence going into the Pre Classic. It wasn't an all out effort. I felt
really good and had a great rhythm throughout."

The next step as he tries to add even more accolades to his Webb page of
high school running history is the Bowerman Mile in Eugene. Last year the
race was won by William Chirchir of Kenya in 3:51.84 with eight of the
runners in the field breaking four minutes and with then senior Donald Sage
of Elmhurst, Illinois running 4:00.29 to become the number four all time
perfomer outdoors with his ninth place overall finish.

The international field assembled this year besides El Guerrouj, Lagat,
Pyrah, Berryhill and Lassiter, the former Lafayette High (Williamsburg, VA)
and University of Arkansas star who was fifth last year in 3:54.85 includes:
Kevin Sullivan of Canada who is a graduate and current assistant coach at the
University of Michigan which Webb will attend this fall and who was the
runnerup last year in 3:52.74; John Mayock of Great Britain, Hudson De Souza
of Brazil who was third last year in 3:53.74; Daniel Zegeye of Ethiopia;
Somalia's Ibrahim Aden who attended W.T. Woodson and George Mason University
and has a best of 3:54.5 and also Uganda's Julius Achon who starred at GMU
and has a best of 3:52.8.

Webb's immediate goal for the race is to run faster than 3:59.3, which
would make him the number two high school performer all time and also qualify
him for the USATF Championships to be held at Hayward Field June 21-24. The
loftier goal would be the 3:55.3 by the legendary Ryun from thirty six years

Webb said, "I am going to try and not get too stressed out about the race
and just try to do the best I can. I am going to try and treat it as just
another much as I can with the world record holder also competing;
now that's cool. Ideally I want to be at 58-59 for the first quarter mile but
not get overly worried if I'm not exactly at that time for the first lap.
I will need to get a feel quickly of how the race is going. I want to play
it smart and not get in over my head, but still compete. I have to know where
my level is on that day, try to run comfortably for the first two laps and
then see how fast I can run for the next two laps.

If I could be at 2:57 with a quarter to go, that would be ideal; my speed
is really good right now and my workouts have been going great. It should be
a fast race. As long as there is not a monsoon there are too many good people
in the race for it not to go fast."

Webb's final quality workout leading up to the Bowerman Mile was this past
Monday and would leave many observers to think that a definite sub-four is in
the works for Webb and a time of close to 3:55 if all goes well is somewhat
of a possibility. The Monday workout was 7x400 meters with a slow 400 jog in
between (appoximately four minutes) with Webb averaging 54.0 for the first
six and then popping a 52.0 on his last 400.

South Lakes coach Scott Raczko, who has successfully overseen the rise of
Webb the past couple of years said, "Alan would have to run his own race and
everything would have to come together in order to run below 3:55.3. It's
more realistic that he should be able to set a personal best in the mile and
get the USATF qualifying time.

The first lap is the real key and he will need to know his place in the
race. He can't get caught up in the leaders running 1:50-1:52. Ideally, he
needs to be in the 1:56-1:58 range which could put him well back in the pack,
then try and hold a 60 second third quarter and finish strong in the final

He will be trying to watch Kevin Sullivan, who runs very consistently and a
very even pace among the top guys and Alan knows that he can't be ahead of
Sullivan or he has gone out too quickly. Alan has been looking very
impressive in workouts lately and he is ready to run fast. The district meet
10 days out from the Pre Classic was perfect timing for a hard workout."

All Time High School Outdoor Mile PerformanceList
1. Jim Ryun, Wichita, KA (3:55.3) 1965
2. Ryun (3:56.8) 1965
3. Ryun (3:58.1) 1965
4. Ryun (3:58.3) 1965
5. Ryun (3:59.0) 1964
6. Tim Danielson, Chula Vista, CA (3:59.4) 1966
7. Marty Liquori, Newark, NJ (3:59.8) 1967
8. Donald Sage, Elmhurst, IL (4:00.29) 2000
9. Liquori (4:00.1) 1967
10. Liquori (4:01.1) 1967
11. Gerry Lindgren, Spokane, WA (4:01.5) 1964
12. Alan Webb, Reston, VA (4:01.87) 2001
13. Sharif Karie, Springfield, VA (4:02.01) 1997

Portions of the meet, including the Bowerman Mile, will be broadcast
nationally by Fox SportsNet from 3:00 p.m to 4:00 p.m. EDT Sunday. The meet
will also feature United States stars Stacy Dragila in the women's pole
vault, Gail Devers in the women's 100 meter hurdles, Maurice Greene in the
men's 100 dash and Marion Jones in the women's 200 dash, among others.

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