We love to share stories of runners across the lifespan showing tremendous performances in all different distances. It is especially exciting when young runners and senior runners make the headlines for race performances that surpass expectations or “norms“ for the runner’s age.
Now, we will jump to the other end of the age spectrum.
Just this past weekend, 19-year-old Addy Wiley ran 4:03.22 in the 1500m. Addy Wiley is the US high school record holder for the 1600 meters.
Last summer, she not only made waves in the running community for her national 1600 m record performance, but also in her decision to renege on a commitment to attend the University of Colorado—a titan in collegiate distance running programs.
Instead, Addy Wiley opted to run for her local NAIA school, Huntington (Ind.) University.
Not only was this noteworthy because most of the country’s top track and field of cross country runners routinely select the big powerhouses for distance running in their selection for their college or university education and training, but also because Huntington University’s former track coach, Nick Johnson, was involved in a major sexual abuse scandal.
However, clearly, the somewhat head-scratching decision paid off for runner Addy Wiley because she just became the fastest U20 US runner in history at the 1500m distance.
Wiley smashed her previous personal record to finish in 4:03.22 at the 1500 m event at the Music City Track Carnival in Nashville, Tennessee.
Even more impressive, Addy Wiley beat out the entire professional field by 2.54 seconds, a huge margin at this distance among the caliber of competitors in the race.
Wiley pulled out all the stops to run a blazing 61.33 last lap, not only winning the event overall, but also breaking the record for the fastest teenager in US women’s history for the distance.
The previous U20 1500m women’s record holder was Alexa Efraimson, who ran her lifetime fastest time of 4:03.39 at age 18 in 2015. Prior to that, the legendary Mary Cain held the 1500m teenage record for US women with a time of 4:04.62, which she set back in 2013 at the age of 17.
Addy Wiley’s 4:03.22 finish time was also faster than the 2023 World Championship standard of 4:03.50.
Perhaps what is most impressive about Wiley’s 1500m performance this weekend has actually less to do with setting a national record or beating out a field of professional runners, but rather the remarkable improvement over her previous personal best for the distance.
In most cases, once you get to such an elite level and you are training and racing consistently at your best, any improvements in a relatively short event such as the 1500m, are marginal at best. Of course, any time you get a personal best, it’s a win, but even running a couple of fractions of a second faster is often hard to come by.
However, this was far from true for Wiley. She entered the race with a previous personal best of 4:11.43.
This is still an incredible time for such a young athlete. She posted this performance last year at the 2022 World U20 Championships, which was good enough for a fifth-place finish in the event.
Everything clearly came together for Addy Wiley at the 2023 Music City Track Carnival, as she was able to shave more than seven seconds off of her previous personal best. This is incredible for such a short distance and such an elite finish time.
Wiley’s new US teenage record for the women’s 1500m also places her second on the list of the fastest US collegiate runners in history, only behind Jenny Simpson.
As a 22-year-old, Jenny Simpson ran 3:59.90 for the University of Colorado at the 2009 Pre Classic.
Although Wiley still has about four seconds to go on her personal best to overtake Simpson’s collegiate record, she also still has three years to get there.
Another interesting takeaway from Wiley’s performance that may be applicable to high school runners trying to choose which school to go to for their academics and running career after graduation is that you do not necessarily have to go to a university with one of the top running programs to have an amazing collegiate running career.
Wiley is proving that an NAIA school can still be a viable option, and sometimes the best choice, for the most talented runners; there are so many factors that go into choosing the right college or university for any given student-athlete.
You can see the full results of the 2023 Music City Track Carnival here.
You can also follow Addy Wiley’s next adventures in running on her Instagram here.