Why don't high school runners run faster? Not because they don't start early enough.

Why don't high school runners run faster? Not because they don't start early enough.

Post by Bret Jense » Fri, 30 May 1997 04:00:00


> > I recently read in a sports industry trade journal that unless
> > a young person is exposed and hooked on a sport by the age of
> > 15(first year of highschool) it is unlikely that they will persue
> > that sport with any degree of seriousness. Relating to my own experience
> > in highschool track/cross-country I would think
> > that this statement is true. Many of the top runners during my
> > years in highschool were winning races in grade 9 and were
> > also winning races in grade 12.

        I have not seen convincing evidence that this is the case.  The
local HS champ, Richard Zelinski, second in both the 1500 and 3000 at
state this year, did not run competitively until the spring of his
freshman year in high school, for example, and neither did Nattalie
Wright, sixth in the 1500 as a freshman, second as a sophomore and also
second in the 3000, and second in the 800 this year.
        Of the grade 9 winners it is very true that most were running
well before age 12.  However, the attrition rate of grade 9 winners
around here is also quite high.  Few go on to become collegiate winners.  
In my league we had the freshman state record holder in the 3000
(Christopher Rowley, 8:46) and the freshman who broke that record (Brett
Hartley, 8:45).  Both were injured so badly by their senior years that
Rowley only raced once and Hartley twice... and I'm not aware of either
of them doing anything in college.
        As usual, it should be noted that the world-class runners in this
country are not always national class runners as high schoolers, e.g.
Steve Scott, Frank Shorter.

                                                                - Bret Jensen