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Verzbicas named Athlete of the Week

Lucas Verzbicas and Jim Ryun

Lucas Verzbicas and Jim Ryun

INDIANAPOLIS — Lukas Verzbicas has been named USA Track & Field’s Athlete of the Week after becoming the fifth U.S. high school athlete ever to run under four minutes in the mile with his victory in the adidas Grand Prix High School Dream Mile.

Verzbicas took over the lead with 600m left in the race on his way to a time of 3:59.71. The high school senior from Orland Park, Ill., was greeted at the finish line by Jim Ryun, the first high school athlete to run sub-four minutes in the event and the only person other than Verzbicas to run sub-4 in an all-high school race. Going into the meet, Verzbicas had high expectations for himself.

“I was pretty positive I could break four minutes,” Verzbicas said. “I expected it to be a lot easier than it was with the rain and the wind. But the conditions made it even more special.”

Verzbicas’ performance capped off an incredibly successful high school running career which was highlighted by first-place finishes at the Footlocker Cross Country Championships and Nike Cross Nationals, as well as three individual titles at the 2011 New Balance Indoor Nationals. He also set records this year in the high school indoor 5,000m and outdoor two-mile events.

“It was very special having been my last high school race,” Verzbicas said. “There’s no better way to have ended it or capped it off. When I finished, I had this feeling of relief because it all just came together.”

Now in its tenth year, USATF’s Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on the USATF website. Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.

Winners: January 5, Bill Tribou; January 12, Tyler Sorensen; January 20, Josh Cox; January 26,Ben Shorey; February 2, Ashton Eaton; February 9, Ashton Eaton; February 16, Bernard Lagat; February 23, Ryan Crouser; March 2, Jillian Camarena-Williams; March 10, Bill Collins; March 16, Miles Batty; March 23, Shalane Flanagan; March 30, John Nunn; April 6, Aries Merritt; April 13, Gunnar Nixon; April 20, Desiree Davila; April 27, Nolan Shaheed; May 4, Emma Coburn; May 11, Willie Gault; May 18, English Gardner; May 25, Kibwé Johnson; June 1, Khadevis Robinson; June 8, Carmelita Jeter; June 15, Lukas Verzbicas