Last week’s 1600 performances by NC’s Ben Johnston, Ferris’s Adam Thorne, and Shadle’s Nathan Weitz caused quite a stir in the Spokane running community with the trio finishing the under 4:15 (4:10, 4:11, and 4:14) in a GSL dual meet. Spokane is no stranger to great distance runners with legendary performers such as Jerry Lindgren, Rick Riley, Randy James, Chris Lewis, and Matt Davis. So a performance to cause such a stir in Spokane would have to be something special. One meet came to my mind was a Mead vs. University dual meet in 1997. Mead’s Jason Fayant, Morgan Thompson, and Ryan Wiser went 1-2-3 on U-Hi’s Seth Mott with Mott running 4:18 and the leaders at 4:15. Can you imagine running 4:18 in a dual meet and not scoring a point? Last week’s trio ran faster. The question being thrown around amongst athletes and coaches after last week was “was that the fastest 1600 (mile) in GSL history?”
At first look you look would have to conclude that it would be, but this is Spokane. So when I started digging a little I found a list of names that could have run faster in a dual. Surely Jerry Lindgren with his Washington all time best of 4:00.1 (converted from mile) could have run under 4:10 or former national two mile record holder Rick Riley ripped off a fast mile in a dual meet or Chris Lewis or Michael Kiter or…the list of Spokanites that have run under 4:12 is quite extensive but had they run these times in a dual meet?
I wanted to investigate further and living in Spokane and attending a District Meet is a perfect place for doing research. I had Hall of Fame coaches and athletes at my disposal sitting in the stands. Coach Tyson from Mead recalled a dual between Mead’s Nathan Davis and Ferris’s Stuart Burnham where they ran 4:13/4:14. Coach Long from NC and teammate of Lindgren didn’t recall a dual as fast as last week’s trio but did have interesting story about Lindgren’s 4:00.1 (for another article.) Lindgren’s Coach Walter from Rogers recalled a race run by Rick Riley in 4:08. So that information lead me to Coach Caviness from Ferris who was Riley’s coach. He confirmed that Riley ran 4:08.5 at Hart Field in 1966. Riley ran this race alone and it stands as the GSL dual meet record. It was also confirmed by the “Immortal Elders” that the trio of times (4:10, 4:11, and 4:14) was the fastest/deepest in GSL history.
Not to be outdone by the boys, NC’s Katie Knight and Shadle’s Kendra Weitz also ran the fastest 1600 in GSL history with their 4:57 and 5:00. I was a little surprised by this; I didn’t think 4:57 was even a track record at Central Valley High School with the legendary Annette Hand (former Olympian and American record holder in the 5K) graduating from CV. Names like Jessica Fry, Sarah Schwald, Jennifer Smith, Megan O’Reilly, and Baylee Mires come to mind of possible GSL greats that have run under 5:00 but none did so in a GSL dual so the two freshmen stand atop the GSL greats in dual meet competition.