ALLENDALE, MICHIGAN, June 11 — Addy Wiley (North, Huntington, Indiana) is not one to be unsettled by an asterisk attached to her time. Not when she has titanium staples in her right lung and diaphragm.
The fact is, Wiley is the fastest girls miler in high school history, even if not credited with the mile record.
In a low-key meet some 200M from home, she won the 1600 — 9.3m shy of a mile — in 4:26.16. That’s equivalent to a 4:27.71 mile, which would have broken the national record of 4:28.35 set indoors by Mary Cain in ’13. Wiley would have smashed the outdoor mile best of 4:33.87 set by Katelyn Tuohy in ’18.
The converted 4:27.71 also ranks No. 3 on the all-time U.S. Junior list behind Mary Cain’s indoor 4:24.11 from ’14 and Alexa Efraimson’s 4:27.39 from ’16.
Wiley, 18, is a survivor of childhood cancer — she developed an inflammatory myofibroblastic tumor at age 10 — and has been influenced by the experience in every race.
“You can’t take anything for granted, you know,” she says. “There are so many people who want the opportunity that you get every time you step on the line. You never want to waste one.”
There are 3 explanations for the race being a 1600 at Grand Valley State instead of a mile: Wiley had not planned to race at all, coming off a State Meet quadruple 8 days earlier; she wasn’t aiming at a time so fast; she said “it didn’t feel like my place” to ask the meet director to change distance, even though it was done for the boys.
“I guess it wasn’t anything we had considered,” said pro runner Lauren Johnson, a Huntington University coach coming off a recent 4:07.73 in the 1500. “She had looked up the record for the 1600.”
Johnson paced Wiley through 1100m, telling the teen they would cross 800 in 2:12. Wiley said that sounded “a little bit shocking,” being the time was 5 seconds faster than she had ever run during a 1600. Even though her mile PR had been 4:38.14 — fastest by a high schooler in ’21 — her target was 4:30, not 4:26.
“I would love to think I could go a little bit faster,” Wiley says. “It felt hard, but when you have competition there, you always find that extra wheel. Maybe someday.”
As Johnson puts it: “She’s more of a competitor than a time trial runner.”
Closing speed is an attribute that could separate Wiley from predecessors. Only a pair of sub-4:40 preps ever ran in an Olympics and one of them was Kim Gallagher. She went on to win silver and bronze 800 medals in ’84 and ’88.
“You don’t see too many people who run a 3200 and then come back and run a 57-second 400,” Huntington North coach Tim Schultz says.
She set State Meet records of 4:38.69 (64.89 last lap) and 2:06.26 in races that began 77 minutes apart. After 28:00 rest, she was 3rd in the 3200 in 10:38.57; 19:00 after that she ran a 57.03 anchor on the 4×4.
She is the only Indiana girl to win a state 800/1600 double, and has done so twice.
The Grand Valley race was not the first time Wiley abruptly dropped a PR.
As a frosh, she lowered her 1600 best by 21 seconds in a month and won State in 4:46.93. She plays soccer in the fall, so she often endures defeat in cross country and indoors as she builds up for spring. Her weekly mileage stays in the 30s.
She says this year’s training has always been aimed toward the USATF Juniors so she can make the team for August’s U20 WC in Cali, Colombia. It would be conjectural to project a 20-year-old Wiley in the mix for the 2024 Paris Olympics… but maybe it should not be dismissed.
“I’ve always wanted to represent Team USA. That’s my biggest dream,” she says. “And so, in my mind, I’ve always focused on the 2028 Olympics, actually. That age seems more fitting. But, at this moment, I’m like, ‘Anything can happen, you know?’ That’s why I’m doing Juniors this year, for experience.”
For college, Wiley chose Colorado over Michigan, Stanford and Princeton. She spent part of her recruiting trip with Jenny Simpson, the Colorado grad who has three WC medals in the 1500.
Buff coach Mark Wetmore has coached 5 runners to 7 medals at the Worlds. He has coached both Simpson (1500) and Emma Coburn (steeple), who in Rio became the first American women to win Olympic medals in those events.
Wetmore says he liked Wiley’s personality, humility and low mileage. “Her coaches seem to have been careful with her. That is certainly better than high school stars that are already at the level of Olympians.”
He was aware of Wiley’s tumor but said it did not come up in conversations or influence Colorado’s recruiting.
Wiley says she doesn’t often think about the cancer, either. When she does, she thinks about those weeks when she couldn’t compete.
“So it’s always been a part of me,” she says. “I don’t try to use it as an excuse.” ◻︎