Tag Archives: Steve Wheeler

3:58.74!

When Henry Wynne ran for Staples, everyone knew he was destined for stardom. The question was not if he would break a 4-minute mile — but when.

The answer is: yesterday.

Henry Wynne, after yesterday's race.

Henry Wynne, after yesterday’s race.

Running for the University of Virginia at Boston University’s John Thomas Terrier Invitational, the 2013 Staples grad — and Connecticut high school state mile record holder — roared to a 3:58.74 finish.

Even more remarkable: He was tripped, and had to hurdle another racer en route to his mark.

On hand for the performance — the 2nd-fastest in UVa history — were Wynne’s father Craig, sister Grace (a Staples junior), former Staples runners Luis Cruz and Erica Hefnawy, and former Staples track coach Malcolm Watson.

One of the first people Henry called after the race? Longtime Staples track legend Laddie Lawrence.

Bonus fun fact: The very 1st Connecticut runner to run a sub-4-minute mile was another Staples grad: Steve Wheeler. He ran a 3:59.4 in 1974 for Duke University — an ACC rival of Virginia. 

Steve Wheeler’s 40-Year-Old 4-Minute Mile

On August 1, Raleigh, North Carolina hosts the 1st-ever Sir Walter Miler. It sounds like a great event: parties, fun runs, and a mile race in which the goal is for someone to run a sub-4-minute mile.

It won’t be the 1st time that’s happened there. Forty years ago, former Staples star Steve Wheeler — who went on to a great career at Duke University — blazed to a 3:59.4 in a Raleigh meet. It was the 1st sub-4-minute mile by any Connecticut runner.

That was the exact time Roger Bannister had run 10 years earlier, when he broke the 4-minute barrier.

Steve Wheeler (Duke) sets the pace in a relay race. (Photo/Sir Walter Miler)

Steve Wheeler (Duke) sets the pace in a relay race. (Photo/Sir Walter Miler)

Wheeler remains one of Westport’s most legendary runners ever.

This month, the Sir Walter Miler website interviewed Wheeler about that great race 4 decades ago.

“I remember it well,” he said. “It was special going under 4 minutes, but my goal was to win, not reach a certain time. I was unaware I had broken 4 until after the race, although I knew it would be close.”

Wheeler — behind for much of the race — “kicked really hard with 250 to go on the back straight. I wasn’t challenged at the finish and probably had a little more in reserve if I had been – but not much!”

Wheeler is now the city manager of Hood River, Oregon — perhaps the most famous state for running in the US.

Asked for advice on breaking 4 minutes, Wheeler said: “Work on both speed and strength. Take care of yourself. Try to stay healthy and injury-free, because consistency of training means a lot.

“And move to Eugene, Oregon. It seems like under-4 happens there almost every week! Living in Oregon, I’ve seen some incredible track performances.”

As did racing fans in Raleigh 40 years ago, thanks to a tall track star from Westport.

(Hat tip to Peter Gambaccini)