In 2013, Ben Saarel wrapped up his senior high school season by clocking a 4:02:78 to win the 2013 Adidas Dream Mile at Icahn Stadium in New York City. Four years have passed and the Adidas Grand Prix in New York City is no more. Breaking four minutes for the mile is more common for high schoolers as Grant Fisher, Drew Hunter and Michael Slagowski have added their names to the history books in recent years.
Many of the participants in the Dream Mile are wrapping up their NCAA eligibility and upon glancing at the results, many of their careers have taken interesting paths.
15th: Cameron Villareal, 4:15.36
Villareal went on to run for Texas A&M and dropped his mile PR to 4:01.25 during his sophomore indoor season. He’s currently in his junior year for the Aggies and has focused more on the 1,500 and 5,000 meters.
14th: Garrett O’Toole, 4:12.12
O’Toole returned to the Dream Mile the following year as one of the high schoolers with hopes of breaking four minutes. He would finish fourth in 4:06.06. Grant Fisher won the 2014 race as a junior in 4:02.02. O’Toole went on to run for Princeton and has yet to break four minutes for the mile.
13th: Jacob Thomson, 4:12.06
Thompson started off his collegiate career at N.C. State before transferring to Kentucky. Since college, he’s shifted to more of a 5,000m and 10,000m runner. He set a 10,000m personal best of 28:47.55 at the Raleigh Relays earlier in the year. Most recently ran 29:58.0 for 10,000m at the NCAA East Regional to qualify for the NCAA Championship.
12th: Robert Domanic, 4:11.34
Domanic is one of the many middle distance runners thriving at Ole Miss under coach Ryan Vanhoy. He dropped his mile PR to 4:00.19 as a junior but remains just on the cusp of joining the sub-4 club. He was a member of the DMR quad that won the NCAA title during this past indoor season. Craig Engels may have been one of the biggest surprises at last year’s NCAA championships and Olympic Trials but people may forget that Domanic was the top Ole Miss guy in the 1,500m final, where he ran 3:41.71 for sixth and Engels was less than two seconds behind him for seventh. Domanic hasn’t run outdoors in 2017.
11th: Trevor Gilley, 4:11.08
Gilley joined Domanic at Ole Miss. He’s dropped his mile personal best to 4:00.47. Gilley was the runner-up in the mile at the 2017 SEC Indoor Championships. He has also not run during the 2017 outdoor season.
10th: Connor Mora, 4:10.81
In January 2017, Mora became the 479th member of the United States sub-four minute miler club when he ran 3:59.36 in Boston.
9th: James Randon, 4:09.39
In February 2016, Randon became the 470th member of the United States sub-four minute miler club when he ran 3:58.85 in Boston.
8th: Andres Arroyo, 4:08.41 PB
Here’s where some of the most interesting storylines start to happen. If we recall correctly, Andres Arroyo was one of the underdog picks for the race because he flashed some incredible 800 meter speed. He ran 1:47.79 at the 2013 Florida Relays. If the race was slow, there was a chance that Arroyo could’ve taken the win. (As noted by our buddy Chris Nickinson, Arroyo also ran 4:04:45 for 1600m.)
He left New York City with a mile personal best but you could tell that the better focus in college would be the 800. It’s paid off at Florida. He chipped another second off his mile time to 4:07.11 but his 800 meter personal best is now 1:45.74. He will be competing at the upcoming NCAA championships.
Of everyone in this race, Arroyo is the lone Olympian. He competed for Puerto Rico at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. He reached the semifinals of the 800m.
7th: Blake Haney, 4:07.78 PB
Haney was just a junior in this race and his finish would make him one of the bigger names to watch in the 2014 race. He went on to finish third in 4:04.08 behind Fisher and future teammate Matthew Maton. Haney took his talents to Oregon, where he’s one of their top 1,500m runners. As a sophomore during the 2016 indoor season, he brought his mile time all the way down to 3:56.36. He struggled at last year’s NCAA championship 1,500 meter final, where he finished 11th but will get a chance to redeem himself as a junior next week.
6th: Ben Malone, 4:07.71
Still no sub-four for Malone but he did manage to bring down his 1,500m time to 3:39.82 and has been a fixture for Villanova on the Big East scene.
5th: Sean McGorty, 4:06.65
McGorty redshirted the indoor season and has only run one outdoor race in 2017 but his 2016 was impressive. He ran 3:53.95 for the mile on Washington’s oversized track during the indoor season. He ran 13:24.25 for 5,000m at the 2016 Payton Jordan Invitational. Finishing 24th at the NCAA cross country championship was a step down from his 7th place finish the previous year but that’s the unpredictability of cross country. It’s been a solid collegiate career at Stanford for McGorty and he’ll have some more indoor and outdoor eligibility to continue running well…when he’s healthy.
4th: Bernie Montoya, 4:05.65
Montoya won the 2012 Dream Mile as a junior and so all eyes were on him to try and become the next U.S. high school star. He won in 4:01.32 and was among the favorites for 2013. He fell short and ran 4:05.65 for fifth place.
After high school, he decided to stay close to home and run at Arizona State. His name didn’t pop up much while perusing NCAA results and so message boards and track geeks wondered ‘What happened to Bernie Montoya’ and it’s one of the Google searches that comes up for his name. In the winter of 2014, Montoya was told that tests results on his heart showed signs of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – the same disease that killed basketball star Hank Gathers.
It would partly explain why the former high school star fell off. Montoya underwent months of testing and checkups to get a second opinion and was eventually cleared for competition. Montoya’s outlook on the sport has changed and it became about just getting back to running.
“The difference I see now compared to when I got diagnosed with this is I love the process of it, and whatever happens on the track, performance-wise, it’s just icing on the cake,” Montoya told the State Press. “All this stuff, I just love to be active. Having that second chance, you tend to appreciate it a lot more than before, so I just take whatever I can with it.”
He’s been racing consistently since returning in October 2015. He most recently ran 8:57.88 for 3,000m at the 2017 MPSF indoor championship in February. Montoya has not run outdoors in 2017. As for his mile, he ran 4:09.39 in April 2016.
3rd: Edward Cheserek, 4:05.36
You’d think that the NCAA record holder in the mile would have broken four minutes for the mile in high school but Cheserek never did. He was a little overlooked in this race but could never be counted out since his personal best was 4:03.29 from the same race where Lukas Verzbicas broke four minutes at the 2011 Adidas Grand Prix Dream Mile. As has been written many times in recent weeks, Cheserek went on to become one of the greatest collegiate runners of all-time. He won 17 NCAA titles at Oregon and set the NCAA record for the mile when he ran 3:52.01 at February’s BU Last Chance Meet. Cheserek suffered a back injury that will keep him from adding to his trophy collection and ends his career at Oregon. The future is bright for the 23-year-old.
2nd: Henry Wynne, 4:05.04
Wynne would be a good answer to a trivia question as to who were the two runners that beat Cheserek in this race. Many could remember Saarel but Wynne would be tougher one to come up with.
Wynne, now running at Virginia, was the first addition to the U.S. sub-four minute mile list in 2016 when he ran 3:58.74 in Boston. In 2016, he took down some big names at the NCAA Championships and finished third behind Murphy and Izaic Yorks in the 1,500m final. Wynne failed to qualify for the NCAA championships this year.
1st: Ben Saarel, 4:02.72
Saarel came into the race with a lethal kick and he showed it off in the final lap, where he clocked about a 55 to seal the win. Letsrun’s Robert Johnson was one of Saarel’s biggest fans after the race and said that “Mark Wetmore is going to be a very happy man” before Saarel went on to run for Colorado.
Even after his race in New York, Saarel knew that he would be more of a 5,000m runner in college and he’s kind of had that focus. He finished third in the 3,000m as a freshman at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championships. He clocked a 13:48.97 for 5,000m at the Payton Jordan Invitational that spring but was then diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. He managed to still compete during the outdoor season and reached the 1,500m semifinal at NCAAs. Cross country is where Saarel has been a major contributor for the Buffaloes and has earned several All-American titles and won two team titles. He qualified for next weekend’s NCAA championship, where he looks to reach the final for the first time.