By Leonard COUTIN
Sports apparel company Brooks Sports Inc. hosted its fifth invitational meet outside of Seattle on June 18 at the Renton Memorial Stadium. Flintridge Prep senior Jack Van Scoter was one of the athletes who received a gold ticket invitation. He headed north after making his mark at the CIF Division 4 finals, winning two gold medals in the 1600m and the 3200m, capturing second at the CIF Master Meet in the 3200m, and placing fifth at the CIF State Championship track meet in the 3200m.
Having already faced some of the top national runners at the 2015 Footlocker Cross-country Championship, including Ben Veatch, Andrew Jordan and Conor Lundy, Van Scoter knew he was in for a battle.
Van Scoter was positioned in the outside lane at the start and as the gun when off, immediately tucked himself behind leaders who clocked a first lap of 66 seconds.
Running 2:15 at the 800 on their way to a 4:30 mile, the runners kept a pace that was slower than expected, and the pack was bunched too tightly. The pace picked up in the second half turning into a negative split race, when the first mile is slower than the second.
Van Scoter continued to push for the outside position to avoid being boxed in. As the pack hit the last 800 mark with two laps left, Van Scoter made his break. Moving further outside on the straightaway, he started to advance on the top leaders and tucked in quickly before the curve. Others also pushed forward, increasing the pace. Van Scoter opted to move back in the pack.
Andrew Jordan, known for extraordinary last lap finishes, made his move at the 500m mark and continued to pull away to the finish line running the two-mile in 8:50.12 for the win. Ben Veatch, who had led the race until the last 500m, took second (8:50.92) followed by Casey Clinger (8:51.68). Van Scoter finished ninth (8:53.98).
As far as planning for the contest, Van Scoter said, “When it comes to race strategy, a quote from Mike Tyson usually comes to mind: ‘Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.’ I wanted to run an honest, even-splits, fast race, and I think if the race was run like that I would have finished higher. But once the hurt starts to hit everyone around the fifth lap of an eight-lap race, plans usually go out the window. We just push as hard as we can for as long as we can. Usually that translates into a fast last 800, and that’s exactly what happened.”
But Van Scoter holds no regrets. “Do I wish I could go back and run the race all over again? You bet. But it turned out about how I expected it would.”
The Flintridge Prep graduate, a highly motivated academic student and an accomplished athlete, plans on attending Georgetown University in the fall.