Gary Martin etched his name atop the all-time state leaderboards in both the 1,600 meters and the mile on Friday night, running Pennsylvania state record times at the John Hay Distance Festival at West Chester Henderson.
Martin, just a junior at Archbishop Wood, clocked a time of 4:03.53 for a full mile in a race that included an F.A.T. split at the 1,600 meter mark of 4:02.15 -- both the fastest ever by a Pennsylvania high schooler.
Martin's mile time shatters Ken Lowry's 39-year-old state record of 4:05.24, which has stood since 1982. His 1,600 meter time breaks Paul Vandegrift's 1987 record time of 4:03.22.
After a relatively slow start for Martin with a first lap of 62.8 seconds, he regrouped to come through the 800 meter mark in 2:02.59, right on the pace set by the rabbit Jack Balick of the University of Pittsburgh. Then it became a solo effort for Martin, who closed his last 400 meters in 59.55 for the win.
On the same track where he ran the third fastest outdoor 3,200 in state history a month ago, Martin returned on Friday with many of the same top PA distance talent also on the line. The race saw three other high schools break 4:08 in the mile. Hatboro Horsham's Devon Comber went 4:06.56 (4:05.06 for 1,600m) for second. Downingtown West's Aiden Barnhill was third in 4:06.97 (4:05.53 for 1,600m) and his teammate Declan Rymer was fourth in 4:07.45 (4:05.99 for 1,600m).
Each of those times are among the fastest ever in state history. The race featured four of the top seven 1600m/mile times in PA state history. The case can certainly be made that this is the great season ever for boys' distance running in PA.
Robert DiDonato of Germantown Academy, who set the outdoor state record in the 3,200 against Martin in early May, placed seventh in the field in 4:11.99.
Martin found himself mid-pack through the opening 200 meters, but he gradually picked his way through the field before settling in behind Balick 600 meters in. Once Balick stepped off the track just before 800, Martin had already put a gap between himself and the rest of the field.
It became a race against the clock and both Vandegrift and Lowry's long-standing all-time bests. Martin claimed both records with some room to spare. Both times are also currently the fastest high school times of the season so far.
Martin said he has one race left this outdoor season -- the 2 mile at Brooks PR. That is not until July 2. For now, Martin will enjoy his state records and his place in PA distance running lore.