This is Paul Merca’s first column on the 2024 US Olympic Marathon Trials. Paul has covered the Trials since 1980 and writes an impressive blog called PaulMercablogspot.com.

As I was in the security line to enter Hayward Field, I got a text from one of my old Franklin High School in Seattle teammates, Charles “Cheese” Smith, who was watching the Olympic Trials from his home on the East Coast.

Cheese’s excited text said that Quincy Wilson of Bowie, Maryland, just set a new national high school record in the 400 meters, running 44.66 in the second heat, breaking the 41-year-old record of 44.69 set by Darrell Robinson of Wilson High School in Tacoma, Washington.

Quincy Wilson breaks the venerable record of Justin Robinson (1979), with his 44.66! photo by Chuck Aragon

Not only that, but the 16-year-old sophomore broke the world under-18 record of 44.84 set by Justin Robinson of Hazelwood West HS in Hazelwood, Missouri, in 2019. The time also got him under the Olympic standard of 45.00.

“To be honest, I felt like I had nothing to lose. I’m working extremely hard for this moment,” said Wilson.

“I know that my training, my coaching, and everybody has me in the right position, so I’m just coming out here and executing each race.”

Wilson, whose reputation is already known to high school fans, caught the attention of folks who don’t follow the sport at the prep level when he ran a 44.37 split in the 4 x 400 relay at the Penn Relays in late April.

With the semifinals on Sunday at 6:35 p.m. local time, Wilson has a legitimate shot at making the finals and putting himself in contention for a spot on Team USA’s 4 x 400 relay pool.

From rewatching his race, Wilson has more poise than the normal high school athlete thrown into the biggest stage in the sport, a fact that 2022 world champion Michael Norman, who got fifth in the 200 meters as a high school student in 2016, backed up.

Mike Norman takes his 400m heat like a veteran does, 45.31, photo by Chuck Aragon for RunBlogRun.

“When you come to a meet like this that carries so much weight, it’s easy to get star-struck and let the moment get too big”, said Norman, who won the fifth heat of the 400 in 45.31.

“It seems like he’s mature enough as an athlete to approach this championship as a competitor, and 100 percent hat’s off to him.”

Wilson is one of nine high school athletes competing at the Trials.

ANDY POWELL’S 1500M GROUP ADVANCES FOUR TO THE SEMIFINALS

Unless you haven’t watched much middle-distance running in the United States, particularly the men’s 1500 meters, Andy Powell continues to show why he’s one of the premier coaches in that event, dating back to his days as an assistant coach at the University of Oregon.

Four runners from the University of Washington men’s head coach’s group easily advanced to Saturday’s semifinals in the 1500 meters.

Waskom wins the 1,500m once again! photo by Paul Merca

Two-time NCAA 1500 meter champion Joe Waskom finished sixth to advance in the second of three heats, running 3:37.84.

With 100 meters to go, he started looking around to make sure that he was seventh or better.

When asked why he didn’t announce why he’d signed with adidas, he said he didn’t want to make a big deal of it, noting that he’d had a name, image & likeness deal with the company over the last year.

The third and final heat of the men’s 1500 saw two-time NCAA indoor mile champion Luke Houser of the Huskies, making his pro debut for the Brooks Beasts, finish second in 3:35.24, while former UW volunteer coach Sam Prakel, who still trains in Seattle under Powell, was third in 3:35.37.

Luke Houser signs with Brooks Beasts! photo courtesy of Brooks Running

Current Husky Nathan Green was fourth in 3:35.71.

Washington alum Sam Ellis, who ran in the front pack early, faded to eleventh in 3:43.45.

In the first heat, Johnny Gregorek, who ran for Powell at the University of Oregon but continues to be coached by him as a post-collegian, finished eleventh in 3:39.24.

It should be noted that in addition to Waskom, Houser, Prakel, Green, Ellis, and Gregorek, Powell’s training group in Seattle also included reigning Canadian 1500-meter champion Kieran Lumb.

Lumb is one of the favorites to retain his national title next week in Montreal and get a spot on Canada’s Olympic team.

Throughout the US Olympic Trials, I’ll share my thoughts on what’s happened, whether it’s good, bad, ugly, indifferent, or fabulous.

As Bob Hodge, one of the columnists for RBR at the Trials, so aptly puts it, “More to come.”

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