4 High Schoolers Break 4:00 In Same Race

Simeon Birnbaum, sub-4:00 winner at the ’22 Brooks PR meet, this time led a prep parade under the barrier. (CAROL CHEN)

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, June 01 — Simeon Birnbaum (Stevens, Rapid City, South Dakota) won the deepest high school mile ever, clocking 3:57.53 at the HOKA Festival of Miles as 3 others joined him in dipping under the no-longer-so-formidable 4:00 barrier.

Organizers had done everything possible to make the twilight event an all-out attack on Alan Webb’s HSR of 3:53.43, even bringing in the sport’s top rabbit, pro Erik Sowinski.

The veteran pacer took the field out at the planned tempo, hitting 57.9 with Connor Burns (Southern Boone, Ashland, Missouri) a step behind. The local favorite, who had just lost his national 5000 record the week before, was the only one succeeding in staying close to Sowinski. Birnbaum ran farther back in the pack for most of the first lap, before moving up behind Burns prior to the turn.

Sowinski, looking over his shoulder regularly, saw that he was at risk of losing Burns, who had slipped back farther, so he found himself easing the pace. He passed halfway in 1:58.0, with Burns at 1:58.2 and Birnbaum and Jackson Heidesch (Dowling, West Des Moines, Iowa) running together another step back.

At 1100, with the pace slipping more, Sowinski peeled off, leaving Burns at the front. Heidesch moved to the lead on the straight and led through three-quarters at 2:59.1, with Birnbaum passing him steps later. An exhausted Burns fell back as Rocky Hansen (Christ, Arden, North Carolina) and Tinoda Matsatsa (St. Andrew’s, Potomac, Maryland) moved up.

Birnbaum wound up nicely for his final drive, pulling away on the stretch for the win in 3:57.53 to move to No. 4 all-time. His last 400 took 57.68. Hansen finished nearly as well to clock 3:58.23 to move to No. 8. Matsatsa grabbed 3rd in 3:58.70 (No. 9) and Heidesch 4th in 3:59.08 (No. 11). Burns fell back to 7th in 4:03.25.

“We came here with a goal and we came short, but I’m still extremely excited to come away with the win,” said Birnbaum, who was the victor also in April’s Arcadia Invitational 8-lap clash. “The biggest problem for me was my start. I got shot straight to the back. That’s just how racing goes.”

A total of 20 preps have now broken 4:00, with Matsatsa and Heidesch new additions to the club.

The girls race saw Charlotte Bell (Cuthbertson, Waxhaw, North Carolina finish best to win in 4:41.33 over Samantha Humphries (Flower Mound, Texas) at 4:41.93. Tatum David (Richland, Olney, Illinois), hoping for a better result, ran 4:37.79 for 6th in the women’s race, won by Colorado alum Abby Nichols in 4:26.08.

Olin Hacker closed in 55.19 to capture the pro men’s race in 3:56.59 over Brett Meyer (3:57.06).