A pair of high school juniors were the highlights of Saturday's boys Dream Mile, but it didn't include the one who everyone expected.
St. Benedict's Edward Cheserek, the race favorite, faded after leading early in the race. The slack was quickly seized by two more underclassmen. Arizona's Bernie Montoya unleashed a prolonged kick from 300 meters out to win in 4:01.32 and was followed by West Virginia's Jacob Burcham, who finished second in 4:02.73.
"I was going into this race thinking I could maybe run a 4:03, 4:04," Montoya said after the race. "But something happened inside me – adrenaline or something – with 300 to go, I just wanted to win it."
Montoya's winning time might not have bested Lukas Verzibica's memorable sub-four performance from a year ago, but in some ways the 2012 version was the fastest high school mile race ever.
It was definitely the deepest.Nine runners ran under 4:05 and Saturday's top-ten would have all beaten last year's fifth place runner.
Missing from that group runners was Cheserek, who entered the race with the fastest mile time in the field. Cheserek led the race through a 59.66 first lap and 2:02.41 through 800 meters, but began to slow on the backstretch of the third lap. It wasn't clear what happened to him and he did not hang around the media area to speak to reporters afterward.
"He'll come back and he'll be ready to go," said Montoya.
Between Montoya, Burcham and Cheserek, arguably the country's top milers this year, next year's Dream Mile could turn out to be a historic event. Never before has more than one high schooler broken four minutes in a mile in the same season, let alone the same race. Could it happen in 2013?
"I believe it can," Montoya said. As he considered the prospects, Montoya grew more confident. "This class is gonna, I think, all go sub-four and how great would that be?