Watch Sage Creek's Bryce Gilmore in the mile at Sundown Track Series Meet #2.
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CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA -- There are lots of ways to prepare to run the mile in a major meet. Going out and clocking a 1:56.0 time trial less than a week before the competition is not one of them.
Yet, that's exactly what Sage Creek junior Bryce Gilmore did this winter.
It didn't seem to affect him as he posted a personal best of 4:14.67, winning the elite race at the Sundown Track Series Meet #2 at Eastmark High in Mesa, Arizona.
Exactly a month later on March 27, Gilmore was almost as formidable, placing second in the 3,200 at 9:00.43 in the Series Meet #3, held at Queen Creek (AZ) High.
Unfortunately, no meet #4 is planned to improve on either mark.
Gilmore admits he tapered his workouts from 60 miles a week to closer to 30 in preparation for the mile, which ranks No. 5 in the state. Not so much for the 3,200, whose time is No. 4.
"I didn't know I'd run that fast in the 800 and I was pleased," said Gilmore. "It showed me I have more speed than I thought and that at the end of the mile, I can run a 59-second lap if that's what it takes."
He admits he was disappointed to not break 9:00 in the 3,200, but not devastated.
Like the mile, the week before he had clocked a 9:10 in a dual meet solo run which was a 35-second improvement over his sophomore season, so he was hoping to dip under 9:00.
"I saw the clock tick past 9 when I finished, but I waited because sometimes the official results are a second off," said Gilmore. "I went in pretty confident but, unfortunately, it didn't happen. Not a problem, I know I'll get there."
The performances weren't exactly shocking although his junior teammate, Stormy Wallace, garnered most of the attention in Arizona before Gilmore stepped on the track.
Gilmore placed second in the San Diego Section and 13th in the state in Division IV cross country as a sophomore before his, and virtually everyone else's, track season was scuttled by the coronavirus.
"I improved my workouts with my dad (Gary) coaching me," said Gilmore, who at 6-foot-1 weighs 140 pounds. "He wrestled and knows what it takes to train at a high level. I know he wanted me to wrestle but I'm a runner and he supports me.
"After waiting and waiting, I just wanted to find some races and they had them in Arizona, so we went there. That was the best. Now I can only hope we're able to have some invitationals in track and, of course, section and state meets."
Getting to run at Arcadia or Mt. SAC or both would be bonuses.
Gilmore ran the abbreviated cross country season for the Bobcats but with only dual meets and four-way meets at the end, it wasn't the same as a full season.
"It was good to get back into racing shape," said Gilmore. "I was able to post some times and see what others did. I like the mile more than the 3,200 but I like cross country and track the same."
The mile and 3,200 times Gilmore ran were better than a had hoped to have on the track in 2020 but his goals for the mile in 2021 are part of a bigger plan.
Every miler knows one time above all else. Anything under 4-minutes is Xanadu. He's hoping between this spring, some summer meets, a quality cross country season and big-time races at events like the Arcadia Invitational might put him in position to crack that barrier in 2022.
"If not in high school, than 100 percent in college," said Gilmore, who is still sifting through college offers.
With that in mind, he wants a sub-4:10 in the mile this spring, preferably in the 4:07-4:08 range.
"I set my goals high," said the 17-year-old. "Mostly the mile, but also in the 3,200 and the 800. I'd like to run all three to see what I can do because I really have no idea.
"That mile in Arizona was my first in almost two years and I definitely had a lot left that last lap."
Gilmore stayed with the lead pack and then in the final 100 meters was clearly the strongest of the runners, topping Eugene, Oregon's Vincent Mestler (4:15.18) by a half-second.
As for the 3,200, Gilmore ran into an even hotter runner as Newbury Park sophomore Lex Young won the race in a PR of 8:57.27 with Gilmore four seconds in front of another Panther, Daniel Appleford, who ran 9:04.03. (That race starts at 2:50 into the video.)
While this spring is still anything but certain to have major meets, Gilmore has already adjusted his thinking ahead to cross country where qualifying for Foot Locker or the team nationals top the list.
Then, with a little luck and competition, he might be able to be part of not just one but maybe two or three runners to break that 4-minute barrier next year.
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Photos by John Hays.
Steve Brand is a regular contributor for MileSplitCA and serves as the San Diego Section editor.