In a race that lived up to the hype and then some, Robert DiDonato shattered a 14-year-old Pennsylvania state record in one of the greatest races that has ever taken place in the Keystone State.
DiDonato, a Germantown Academy senior and Stanford University recruit, went 8:44.98 over 8 laps on a drizzly and, frankly, perfect night for racing at the 16th Henderson Invitational.
DiDonato's time breaks Paul Springer's 2007 all-time outdoor state best of 8:49.84, which also came at the Henderson Invitational. It also takes down Craig Forys' (Colts Neck, NJ) meet record of 8:46.04 from that same 2007 race as Springer. Forys time still stands as the New Jersey state record.
8:44.98 is an outdoor state record for DiDonato, though Noah Affolder's indoor time of 8:42.94 from New Balance Nationals Indoor is the fastest time ever recorded by a Pennsylvania high schooler.
It was the perfect field for DiDonato, loaded with talent, including Archbishop Wood junior Gary Martin. Martin, who ran a 4:07 1,600 two weeks ago, took second in 8:49.96 in a race that saw five in total break the 9-minute mark. Martin's time ranks him PA No. 3 all-time. Nick Bendtsen from Connecticut took third in 8:53.33, Hatboro Horsham's Devon Comber was fourth in 8:53.58, and Downingtown West's Aiden Barnhill was fifth in 8:58.53.
11 boys went under 9:20 and the seven fastest times so far this season in PA came in this one race.
After sharing the lead for much of the race, DiDonato put some space between himself and Martin with a little over two laps to go. DiDonato threw down a big kick in the last lap, closing in 59.61 over the final 400 meters to take the win and the record.
DiDonato and Martin both ran significant negative splits. The leaders came through the 1,600 mark in 4:27.50. DiDonato ran his second 1,600 in 4:17.
It was a special night and surely one that will be talked about in PA distance running lore for quite some time.
Check out the race video of the fourth and fastest section of the boys 3200m above and check out interviews with DiDonato and Martin below. More from this race and this meet soon!