Gary Martin Narrowly Misses Sub-4, Picks Up Penn Relays Win

PHILADELPHIA -- Gary Martin had big plans for Friday night.

And his appearance in the Championship of America boys mile presented by Toyota at the Penn Relays was only part of it for the Archbishop Wood senior.

Shortly after scoring the win -- including a new meet record in the mile -- Martin rushed out of Franklin Field. It was prom night.

But Martin had business to take care of first. Though he missed breaking the elusive four-minute mile barrier, Martin still left a Penn Relays champion and he shattered the meet record in the process.

Martin led wire-to-wire to win in 4:01.04. He went out right on pace, coming through 409 meters in 60.63 seconds. His next 400 meters was a 60.22 to bring him through 809 meters in 2:00.85 -- again, right on the pace he was aiming for.

Then he ran his third lap in 59.66 to bring him to 1,209 meters in 3:00.50

Ultimately, Martin ran his last 400 meters in 1:00.54 to miss sub-four by just over a second.

"There was a lot of pain," Martin said after the race. "I was trying to hold on and stay strong and close hard. I didn't close as hard as I wanted to. I'm a little disappointed, but it's part of the learning experience. We'll get better from it and hopefully next time out there I'll break four."

The time was just off his PR set two weeks ago at the Explorers Invitational, where he ran 4:00.95. Martin's time crushed Sean McGorty's 2013 Penn Relays meet record of 4:04.47 by over three seconds.

Butler's CJ Singleton was second in 4:07.51. The senior hung well with Martin through the first half mile and still managed to come away with the seventh fastest full mile time in Pennsylvania state history.

A total of four athletes went under 4:10, including two personal best marks from Canfield's (OH) Nick Plant and Manchester Valley's (MD) Aiden Neal. Plant, a Virginia Tech recruit, chopped off another four seconds and finished in third in 4;07.57. 

Neal, a North Carolina recruit, sealed a wild last 400m with a time of 4:07.58. He was the fastest athlete over the last 400 meters, closing in 59.14.

There was no sub-four in the cards for Martin on Friday.

He will get other chances in the waning months of his senior year.

As for Friday, Martin will enjoy his prom as a Penn Relays champion. His accessories may need some alterations, though.