“Around the Oval’’
First outdoor sub-4 run in Ocean State
By BOB LEDDY
R.I. Track & Field Foundation Correspondent
EXETER, 7 Aug. - - The task at hand for the half-dozen distance runners on the Exeter/West Greenwich high school track tonight was to break the long-fabled 4-minute mile time. But first, a good pace had to be maintained; one that called for at least a 59-minute quarter split. And the tight pack of distance specialists accomplished that goal, hitting 400-meters in just under a minute. From that point the group opened up while battling the clock, as a large gathering ringing the track cheered.
At the finish, it was Cory Leslie, a 22 year-old Sandusky, Ohio native, hitting the tape in 3 minutes 58.98 seconds. Finishing second was Eric Jenkins, of Northeastern University, in 4:00.13. The special mile run was held in fine weather on the Scarlet Knghts’ fast oval, and was sandwiched between a youth track meet. The elite mile field came from all parts of the United States. (No “rabbit’’ pacer was utilized for this run).
Cory’s time eclipsed what was previously the fastest outdoor mile time in Rhode Island , a 4:01.44, by Brown University alum Pat Tarpy ont the Bears’ oval in April, 2006.
Recipe for a fast time
Sub-4-minute miles demand not just speed, of course, but focus; this group adhered to both strategies.
“I made sure we went out fast, and were on pace,’’ said Leslie of himself and his fellow runners. “It’s what everyone wanted to do, and we knew somebody would [go under 4 minutes].’’
The pack went through the 800-meter split in an unofficial 1:59.5 with Leslie and A.J. Acosta, of Eugene, Ore. trading leads. Leslie, of Ohio State University, grabbed the lead for good about ¾ of a mile into the race. Acosta wound up fifth in 4:07.36.
“It was a little windy on the home stretch,’’ said Leslie, “but it wasn’t a problem. This is a beautiful facility. When I first heard we’d be running on a high school track I was doubtful, but this track is great. This [mile run] worked out well in my season. Being in front of a crowd like this was also great. I’d love to come back.’’
Leslie, who owns a 4:08 1600 meters as a prep runner (= 4:09.5 @ 1 mile), will compete at this Saturday’s Falmouth mile on Cape Cod.
The field, and their finish times:
1, Cory Leslie, Ohio State 3:58.98; 2, Eric Jenkins, Northeastern 4:00.13; 3, Dan Clark, Notre Dame 4:00.29; 4, Sean Brosnan 4:07.06; 5, A.J. Acosta, Eugene, Ore. 4:07.36; 6, Christian Hesch, California 4:28.36.
Oval Notes: Rhode Island’s only other sub-4 mile on the books was run indoors at Brown University’s Olney-Margolis track on 1 Feb. 1987. In that race, Ireland’s Frank O’Mara clocked a 3:53.42 winning time. The next two finishers in the five-man field also came in under 4 minutes: Jim Spivey in 3:55.71 and Spain’s Jose Abascal in 3:56.74. The event was staged to promote resurfacing of the Olney-Margolis track . . . Only two native Rhode Islanders own sub-4 mile times. In 1982, Newport’s Phil “Tiny’’ Kane, of Rogers High and Villanova fame, clocked 3:55.77 at a meet in Germany. In 1974, East Providence’s Bruce Fischer went 3:58.5 at a meet in Wichita, Kan.