The fastest time in the 800-meter run in the nation this year belongs to an unassuming, blond-haired senior at McQueen High School in northwest Reno.
Connor Ross, posted a time of 1 minute, 50.75 seconds on Saturday at the Stanford Invitational. The time beat his previous best by 2 seconds.
But Ross think he can go faster, probably this spring. He has his mind set on running a 1:49 or better.
“It feels really good, but I know I want to do better and keep improving it,” Ross said of owning the fastest time in the country.
He said a fast pace at Stanford — the first 400 was in 52 seconds — propelled him to the fast time.
“It was a perfect race for me. I went out fast and I was able to maintain my composure,” Ross said.
He took the lead over the final 150 meters. The second-place finisher crossed the line 1.5 seconds behind him.
“I was really surprised,” Ross said. “I didn’t think I was going to run that fast this early. I felt really good after the race.”
McQueen coach Ed Parise said Ross’ willingness to try several events helps him in the 800.
“When you set your mind to something, like he does, anything is possible,” Parise said. “He’s a talented kid. I haven’t had a distance runner that has the speed that he’s had.”
Ross also won the 400 Saturday in 48.72. Teammate Kai Benedict won the 3000-meter race at Stanford in 8:32.38, also the fastest time in the country.
Parise said Benedict set the pace, as a pair of fast fellow runners from California did not enter the 3K in time and were put in a slower heat.
“Otherwise, I think he could have went maybe 7 seconds faster because the race went out real, real slow,” Parise said. “He’s one that knows, when the pace is not there, he’ll pick the pace up.”
The high school 800 record is 1:46.45 set in 1996 by Michael Glanville of California. The world record is 1:40.91 set by David Rudisha of Kenya in 2012.
Ross said a strong cross country season helped him gain strength and establish a solid training base. Ross won the Northern Region cross 5-kilometer in 16:33 and was third at state in 16:06.
“The distance (running) put a lot of base on me and a lot of strength so now I’m just bringing the speed into it,” he said.
Ross will attend Georgetown in the fall to compete on the track team and study business management.
Nick Hartle of Centennial set the Nevada state record of 1:49.91 in 2011.