By Michael Kinney
EDMOND– Gabe Simonsen knew he would only have three attempts at breaking the record. With a shortened track and field season, the Mustang High senior had three legitimate shots to grabbing hold of the best two-mile time in Oklahoma high school history.
After missing out on his first two attempts, that left the future Oklahoma State runner with one more opportunity before the postseason arrived. And this time he didn’t let it go to waste.
On April 21 at the Edmond Memorial Invitational, Simonsen ran the 3,200 meter run in a time of 8:56.07. That was almost four seconds better than the previous record of 8:59.97, which was set in 2015 by Ben Barrett.
“I definitely prepared myself more for today, but it definitely feels good,” Simonsen said. “Especially to break it by four seconds. I think that really sets me up good for the future and I’m just looking forward to everything about this sport that I have in the future.”
AJ Antonelli of Deer Creek came in second place, 37 seconds behind Simonsen.
With no competitor within a half minute of him, Simonsen has had to rely on self-motivation to push himself to capture the record.
“Well having that as a goal did help me push myself a lot more this year, it helped me motivate it,” Simonsen said. “So that’s how I am with goals. It’s really a big factor for me, especially personally. But those always helped me a lot and I’m always setting goals for myself, even if they seem unachievable, they’re always going to be there.”
According to Mustang coach Mike McGarry, Simonsen was ready to get it done after missing out on the first two attempts.
“Anytime you’re going after something that thousands of boys over the years have tried to get, the conditions have to be right. The conditions play a big deal in it,” McGarry said. “There was very little wind this morning, under 10 mph. This is an east and west track and a fairly new track. So it’s a little bouncier, a little springier. And he was ready after the two failed attempts. He was mentally prepared and ran a great race.”
However, as soon as the race was over, Simonsen had already moved on. His sights were set on his next conquest.
“(The record) means a lot,” Simonsen said. “It ties up seeing my whole high school career really well. I’ve always loved this sport and achieving my goals that I set for myself is amazing and I can’t wait to go for the 1,600 next.”
The state record in the 1,600 meter run is 4:09.77. It was set in 2016 by Sallisaw’s Zack Black at the Meet of Champions.
At the Edmond Invite Simonsen ran a 4:20.54, more than five seconds ahead of second place. His personal best is a 4:14, which he set earlier this season.
Unfortunately for Simonsen, Mustang has no other meets on their schedule until the postseason begins May 8. He said he wants to make sure his mind is just on winning the events and helping the Broncos score points at the regional and state championship meets.
However, Simonsen is eyeing events such as the Oklahoma Mile Night at Deer Creek to enter individually to try and go for the record.
The Oklahoma Mile Night is a night of distance running to showcase and celebrate Oklahoma distance athletes. The goal of the meet is to give Oklahoma distance athletes at all levels, from Elite highs school distance athletes to JV athletes who may not get another opportunity to race this season, a chance to run a personal best in the 1,600-meter run.
“I think it’s going to take a good day with fresh legs, no races before it,” Simonsen said. “May 1st I might be going for it at Oklahoma Mile Night. I don’t know that yet, but either that, or I’ll be running a mile in Kansas, which won’t count for the Oklahoma record, but I’ll know.”
If Simonsen is able to add the state record in the 1,600 to his ever growing list of accomplishments, he said it would be great for him and his home state.
“I think it really helps push Oklahoma as a whole get faster,” said Simonsen, who has signed with Oklahoma State. “Over the past couple years, Oklahoma has just been getting faster and faster times and runners all around the state. So putting these fast times out there, it motivates everyone around you to run fast and Oklahoma is getting there. It gives me a lot more motivation. I think it sets me up really well. It gives me a lot more confidence too. Just setting up big things for the NCAAs.”
Copy & Photos by Michael Kinney Media