I understand looking back in a cross race, or maybe even a 5k on the track if you're alone. But whenever it's the last lap of a 1600, what good is it going to do? Aren't most folks top end on their last lap anyways? Looking back really isn't going to do anything but freak you out of you're too close, right?
Graf's team was counting on him for the title. Have you seen how deep those kids roll at ALL times during meets? A team where sprinters are close with distance folks seem to be tough to come by. The way those kids line the bottom row of the stands during the distances races is one of the best things to happen at the state meet. You're telling me if there are 30 kids and parents yelling your name, chanting, you won't be juiced up enough to dive for a place that ISN'T a win? I sure would.
Kirtner ran one HECK of a race, though, and his efforts throughout this season will not die upon his graduation. 4:14, sub2, 9:20s...the kid's going to a school next year where his coach is the ex-coach of Southern Oregon, bringing their program to the top of the ranks in D3XC in just a couple of short years. It seems that he'll be able to go in there with a few guys who are low-mid 1:50s in the 800, and a coach who knows how to get a kid strong. I could easily see the kid dipping into the low 3:50s his first year if he stays healthy.
Graf is going to a school with *counts off hand* four (Legesse, Masters, Harasyn, Casey) gentlemen who have run 3:58 or better. Their cross country team is a perennial powerhouse, and they always have a handful of gentlemen under 14:00 for the 5k outdoors. I imagine if Graf hops on that 5k train, he could carry his 3200 pace (or a touch quicker) for another mile and pull along to 14:20's-30's. That would be pretty neat to watch.
Both have a tremendous upside. Best of luck at the next level, gentlemen. I, for one, am cheering for the both of you. I'm sure whenever you head to the next level, folks will forget about some petty nonsense like whether or not it was tasteless or mock-worthy when you dove or looked back during a race. Keep up the good work, fellows.
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