Issue 5 Contents


Riley Breaks Records for Brookline

For absolutely complete results including finish line camera pictures, go to:

It's my fault. I screwed up. Jonathon ran great from December through February and still managed to be in peak form for the All-State Meet in March. His 1:54.8, 8:58.82 double will be legendary no matter what else happens in his bright future. With only one week more to the Nationals, he could lay on the couch and eat pork rinds all day and still win.

But I got too excited. I had been doing such a good job of not messing him up, that I tried to reach for too much. On the Tuesday after the State Meet (3 nights rest) I had him do 2x(600m, 500m @ less-than-orequal-to 60 second quarter pace) with @4 minutes between reps. We waited for a heart rate of 120 between sets. Matt Hebert was running with Jon for 2x(500m, 300m) at the same pace.

Matt looked great and was chomping at the bit to begin the second set, Jon said he needed more rest. Somehow I didn't get it. It was too much. The kid had run an unprecedented double on Saturday, and then ran a long and unfortunately hard Sunday recovery with Lauren Matthews, but I still let him do the second set of intervals that were too long in the first place.

Matt looked great for the second set, but Jon crashed on the high jump pits after his second set. It was only then that he told me that he had felt feverish and had had a headache all day.

My life flashed before my eyes.

When Jon came home, his dad said, "You are not going to get sick," and made a bunch of macrobiotic preparations for him. He slept late the next day and felt well enough by afternoon to run 35 minutes easy with Matt Hebert.

Earlier on Wednesday I spoke with my high school coach who was surprised I had Jonathon do that much and his consolation that Jon had already run so well only made me feel worse. "First, do no harm," I chided myself.

When I saw him Thursday he looked much better. He and Matt ran a few straightaways while I was working with the pentathletes. I felt a little better.

The thing about Jonathon is that you just believe. He's so good, you have no doubts. Even at the Nationals and even after a difficult week, we still planned to go hard from the gun.

When they lined up at the start, Jon was on the interior of the outter barrel. Ryan Travis was to his right, to Travis' right was sophomore Andy Powell. Jon's teammates were pressed against the rail shouting encouragement. There were shouts for Powell, too. Travis, a friend Jon's since Nationals in cross country, made an appeal for support as the gun was raised. "Let's go Travis," a few of us shouted just before the gun was fired. I almost wonder if Travis was caught of guard a bit. When he asked for support, Jon was already coiled with his eyes on the starter.

Jon started fast with Travis and Powell slipping behind the Riley Express. When they completed the two-turn stagger and broke for the inside Jon still led with Travis and Powell in tow. Through 400m in 61.4, the entire field was content to let Jon lead.

By the third lap I began to think that it wasn't as fast as it might have been. Jon came through 800m in 2:04.5, about 2 seconds slower than planned. Even so, they were on pace for a top ten all-time performance in the event. That wasn't good enough for Powell who surged and tried to get away. "I love Andy Powell," I screamed out loud. At Nationals, already running fast, the intrepid sophomore was trying to reshuffle the deck and wrest control from Riley. Powell did not just try to get the lead, he exploded by Riley and Travis. Of course, I'm simultaneously thinking, I screwedup, it's my fault and it doesn't matter, he's still going to win. He inspires such faith.

With less than three laps to go Jon began to slowly close on Powell. Travis was still right with Jon and a threat.

Then as always, the inevitable. Jon ran Andy down and pulled away in the last lap. Travis, running fantastically well falling inches back with every stride while still moving quickly past Powell, and Powell still increasing his margin over fourth and fifth.

Riley finished in a meet record 4:07.12, the third fastest indoor mile by a prep in history. Travis in 4:08.18 and Powell the stunning sophomore in 4:09.82. All three marks are among the top 10 ever and Powell's a national sophomore record.

Jon congratulated everyone and then sat down on the infield to remove his burning shoes. Reporters from the Globe and Herald and the New York Times and Philadelphia Inquirer mobbed him. Within a few minutes he was walking around again. He looked to the Brookline contingent in the stands and held up two fingers.

What did it mean? Second place? Second fastest time ever? Nope. It meant that the double was on. He would come back in the two mile.

There had been a lot of talk about Jon's entry in both the mile and two mile. The fact that he would have to face Jon no matter what race he chose scared erstwhile national leader in the mile Sharif Karie (4:08) out of competing at all according to coaches close to him.

Travis and Powell had clearly pressed Riley. No one had ever seen him tired, and he was tired. Only two hours separated the events in the schedule. Could he really come back after such an extraordinary effort.

"Get your feet up," Coach Glennon shouted across the track. Still ebullient, Jon continued to receive congratulations from all corners. The precious rest evaporated.

With his 8:58 from the week before, Jon was the number one seed in the two mile. We can't let him beat us, the other competitors joked. Somebody tackle him if you have to. Jon turned to his friend Jamie Gifford of Tennessee who had been third in the Millrose mile behind Travis. "Jamie'll help me," he said. "You're on your own," Gifford replied.

Jon had run cold water over his head before he toed the line and it made him look more tired. Someone had thrown-up in lane three in the prior race giving Jon a couple of extra moments.

Then the gun.

Steve Slattery of New Jersey pressed from the start with an excellent first quarter. That's not good, I thought. Jon's best chance was a kicker's race. Believe it or not, Jon can run under 4:40 mile pace and continue to recover. He's so incredibly fit.

Fortunately, by 800m, Slattery fell back into the field and no one else had the confidence to take a turn pressing the pace. Jon who had been running close to the back of a long train of runners chasing Slattery soon found himself once again at the back of a tightly bunched lead group as the pace slowed.

Gifford couldn't afford the slow pace and surged to the lead when he heard the mile split. Jon came through the mile in 4:36, but he was falling off the leaders. The group broke as the pace increased. Gaps grew between 2nd and 3rd and 4th and 5th.

Chris Dugan made a major move to lose Gifford who lacked the all out speed to cover, and in a single lap Jon dropped 10 meters. Dugan looked like he was going to run away from the field including Gifford, who was increasing his own margin over third a position Riley exchanged with Adam Daniels as he tried to climb back into the race.

I stood near Ryan Travis who said Jon looked more and more tired. I couldn't see how Jon was going to win as he struggled to move into third with almost a straightaway to recover, but I still had the faith. I believed he was going to do it even though there was no way he could.

With a 500m to go Jon picked up the pace perceptibly but not dramatically. Where was the customarily furious finish? It took 200m to close the gap to Gifford, leaving Jon less than 300m to close more than 30 meters on Dugan.

Dugan got the bell with most of those 30m, but the crowd was on it's feet cheering in response to Riley's excruciating climb. in the far straight Riley closed slowly until the pair disappeared from view in the final turn. Everyone was standing to see this race in the stands on the stairs on the infield. I couldn't see anything from track level where I was trying to scream splits and encouragement.

But I heard it. As loud as the crowd had been, it was suddenly twice as loud. Riley caught him. Dugan fought hard on the final straight but couldn't match Riley.

His second win of the day came in 9:03.39. In the history of the Nationals, no boy had ever attempted this double and Jon won both! He now leads the nation in 1000m (2:26.1), the Mile (4:07.12) and the 2 Mile (8:58.82).

Dugan was second in 9:03.97, Gifford third in 9:07.92, Slattery fourth 9:08.62, Adam Daniels 5th in 9:13.94. Daniels' time would have won Nationals last year. Jonathon not only won both of these events for the first time ever, he won them in the most competitive years for each.

Officials were so impressed, they stopped the meet between the heats of the 4x200m relay championship in order to give him a victory lap.

Jon was named outstanding male athlete of the meet over Obea Moore who led Muir High School to 3 National titles and 2 national records in relay events and Mike Newell who won both the dash and the long jump.

At the end of the day, unused jerseys from the various states were being sold at the concession stand. One young man was found digging through the boxes looking for a Massachusetts jersey.


"Because that's where Jonathon Riley's from."