A WYNNE FOR THE AGES: Staples runner stamps legacy with record-breaking spring
Published 5:09 pm, Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Watching a live stream online of the boys mile at the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C., Lawrence -- home because he was sick -- urged his standout runner to kick it into another gear.
"In the final lap, I was yelling at the computer, `Watch the guy behind you,'" the coach recalled last week.
What Lawrence didn't realize, however, was that Wynne was running into a stiff wind for the final 200 meters. The Staples star motored his way to a winning time of 4:07.84 -- less than a second better than runner-up Jack Keelan of LaGrange Park, Ill. (4:08.73).
"I don't know how close the second-place guy was," Wynne later admitted, "but I always think in my head they are close. I don't want to be slowing down in that kind of race. I powered all the way through it and didn't let up."
The win capped an illustrious Staples career for Wynne, one illuminated by a collection of championships and record-setting races. In his senior year alone -- from cross country through both indoor and outdoor track -- Wynne was close to invincible, winning all but one individual race in which he he competed.
More InformationWYNNE AT A GLANCE
SPORTS: Cross country, indoor track, outdoor track
WHAT'S NEXT: Signed to University of Virginia
NATIONAL TITLES: 2013 outdoor track: mile (4:07.84). Indoor track: mile (4:08.15), 4,000 distance medley (10:07.01).
NEW ENGLAND TITLES: 2013 outdoor track: 800 (1:49.95). 2013 indoor track: 1,000 (2:25.55). 2012 outdoor track: 1,600 (4:13.33), 2012 indoor track: 1,000 (2:28.30), 4x400 relay (3:23.62). 2012 cross country: (16:12).
STATE TITLES: 2013 outdoor track -- Class LL: 800 (1:53.52), 1,600 (4:18.78), State Open: 800 (1:50.63), 1,600 (4:13.82). Indoor track -- Class LL: 1,000 (2:34.48), 1,600 (4:17.18). State Open: 1,000 (2:31.32), 1,600 (4:23.53). 2012 outdoor track -- Class LL: 800 (1:54.20); 1,600 (4:10.35). State Open: 800 (1:54.08), 1,600 (4:12.73). Indoor track -- Class LL: 1000 (2:30.42), 4x400 relay (3:29.45), 1,600 sprint medley (3:38.55). State Open: 1,000 (2:29.56), 4x400 (3:26.44), 1,600 SM (3:38.93). 2011 outdoor track -- State Open: 4x800 medley relay (7:53.07). Indoor track -- State Open: 4x800 MR (8:06.56). 2012 cross country -- Class LL: (15:49). State Open: (15:49).
"It's everything that I hoped it would be -- maybe a little more," he said of his senior season. "I wasn't quite sure what the times were going to be and how I'd run, but I think I exceeded my own expectations."
Following an unbeaten cross country season in the fall -- he won the FCIAC, LL state, State Open and New England titles -- Wynne proceeded to break nine individual school records in track, ranging in distance from 800 to 3,200 meters. Relays included, he holds an unprecedented 17 Staples records in track.
"He's the best we've ever had at the distances that he's running," Lawrence said.
Before developing into a dynamite runner, Wynne played lacrosse on Staples' freshman team in the spring -- a sport he picked up way back in second grade.
"I was pretty good," he said. "I wouldn't say I was anything compared to how I've been in running. ... I was just more in it for having fun."
Running, at that time, was simply Wynne's way of training for lacrosse.
"The [lacrosse] coach said that we had to do some training or do some physical activity -- he wanted us to lift or run," Wynne said. "I chose cross country over the lifting."
Wynne had shown promise as a runner on the school's cross country team the previous fall -- he was the lone freshman to make varsity -- but followed it up with a non-descript performance in indoor track.
"He didn't really distinguish himself greatly as a freshman [in indoor track]," Lawrence said.
It wasn't long however, before Wynne became a household name.
During indoor track as a sophomore, Wynne helped lead Staples' 4x800 relay to wins in both the FCIAC championships and State Open. Given his success, he ditched lacrosse for outdoor track that spring and won the 1,600 meter title in 4:20.33 at the conference meet.
He won the FCIAC cross country championship as a junior, clocking in at 15:27. Just five days later, he took third at the LL state meet in 16:13 -- 23 seconds behind the winner, Connor Rog of Fairfield Prep.
Rog, who also won the Open that season -- Wynne finished third in 15:50, 28 seconds off the lead -- recalls the Staples runner's meteoric rise.
"Everybody was like, `Who's this Henry kid?' He kind of came out of nowhere," recalled Rog, who recently concluded his freshman year at University of Virginia and will team with Wynne there next year.
Described by Lawrence as having "a lot of untapped talent" as a sophomore, Wynne developed into a different caliber of runner.
"He's a much smoother, more stylish runner now," Lawrence said. "Everybody sort of develops their own running style. ... You see him go around the track and his head doesn't bob up and down. He's just smooth as glass out there."
A CLASS OF HIS OWN
No runner at Staples has stamped his name into the record books more often than Wynne, who has won 22 state championships, including individual and relay events. This season, he surpassed Ed Sheeran, who graduated in 1989 with 18 titles.
Lawrence said Wynne, who holds a collection of state records, is a rare talent in that he has the speed to master the shorter events and the endurance to excel in the distance races.
"He's got great speed, so he can run down to 400 meters," Lawrence said, "and he's got great endurance, so he can run up to 5,000 meters. He's the best from the 800 to the mile."
Wynne was dominant across the board in his senior season, setting school records in the 800, 1,500, mile, 3,000, 3,200 and both the 4x800 and distance medley relays in outdoor track. In indoor as a senior, he notched new marks in the 1,000 1,500, 1,600, mile and distance medley relay.
He believes his physique -- he is a trim 6 feet 3 inches -- and his strenuous training regimen are both ingredients in his success. His training is a mix of sprint workouts and base distance work -- averaging as few of 35 miles of running a week in-season and as many as 50 miles a week in the summer.
His teammates often run the same workouts, only Wynne takes them to another level.
"We all do the same thing. He just does them at pseudo-speed, which we can't really match because he's Henry Wynne," said senior Patrick Nolan, a 4x800 relay teammate of Wynne's the last two seasons.
As prepared physically as Wynne is, his running I.Q. also sets him apart, Lawrence said. Wynne usually has a plan entering a race, but he's smart enough to alter it when necessary.
"He has the intelligence to adapt to what's going on," Lawrence said. "Sometimes you get a kid and you tell him, `OK, this is what you should be doing,' and then they go ahead and do it. Then the race doesn't develop that way and they lose."
Wynne said he's often focused on running a certain time, knowing that if he meets his goal, he'll be in position to win.
"I stop thinking as much about place," Wynne said. "I feel as if I do the performance that I want to, that would give me first place. I just try to hammer it as hard as I can. If somebody beats me and I'm going all out, then so be it. They deserve the win."
THE NEXT RACE
As a senior, Wynne was close to perfect.
Across the three seasons, he lost just one individual race: the Adidas Grand Prix Dream Mile on May 25 in New York, in which he placed second (4:05.04) to Ben Saarel of Park City, Utah (4:02.72).
Wynne set both a Connecticut state and personal record in the race -- the previous best was 4:05.72 by Gavin Coombs of Griswold in 2004.
"I went into the race knowing I wasn't the favorite," Wynne said, "just hoping I could have my race and run as fast as possible. ... A lot of people were making a big deal about being undefeated."
Wynne went on to pile up more individual accolades in the postseason for outdoor. He won the 800 at the FCIAC, LL state, State Open and New England (set a New England record of 1:49.95) meets. He also took first in the 1,600 at the conference, LL state and State Open races.
His victory in the mile at Nationals was his second individual U.S. crown this year; he won the mile (4:08.15) at Indoor Nationals in March.
"He really doesn't lose," Staples teammate Nolan said.
Wynne realizes his next challenge will be among his toughest yet. He'll head down to Virginia Aug. 16, where he hopes to make a name for himself all over again.
"There I'm going to be pushing myself even harder," said Wynne, who committed to the Cavaliers last October over Duke, Michigan and Penn. "The training and the competition level is just going to be a huge increase. I'm hoping to be really successful and just run my hardest."
He believes his high school training has set him up to excel in college.
"I haven't been doing too much mileage, too much training, which seems to be a problem with a lot of guys coming out of high school," he said. "I'm hoping to get a little more mileage under my legs."
Rog suffered a stress fracture during last fall's cross country season, forcing him to medical redshirt indoor track and redshirt outdoor track. He's eager to run alongside Wynne again.
"It's definitely going to be tough, but he's going to get stronger every year," Rog said. "He's going to be really, really good."
email@example.com; 203-255-4561 ext. 114; twitter.com/DougBonjour