- Scott Powers, Reporter
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Sandburg High School (Orland Park, Ill.) senior Lukas Verzbicas became the fifth high school runner ever to record a sub-four minute mile when he won the Dream Mile at the adidas Grand Prix in three minutes, 59.71 seconds in New York City on Saturday.
Alan Webb was the last high school runner to run the mile under four minutes. He ran it in 3:53.43 in 2001. Jim Ryun (1964), Tim Danielson (1966) and Marty Liquori (1967) are the other high school runners to achieve the feat.
"It's a great honor to be named among all those heroes of mine, legends of the running world for me," Verzbicas said on Sunday. "For me, it means so much because I consider myself more of a long-distance runner."
Verzbicas entered Saturday's race expecting to crack the four-minute barrier after setting the national high school record for the two-mile earlier this month. He finished the two-mile in eight minutes, 29.46 seconds at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore. on June 4.
"I thought it was going to be a lot easier than it was," he said. "Having set the national record in the two-mile last weekend in Oregon, I thought going into this race a sub-four wasn't going to be a problem. As things were, it was very windy and raining. The conditions weren't great. It was very difficult to do. But the competition was great, and they really helped me out."
When he crossed the finish line on Saturday, Verzbicas felt more relief than happiness.
"There are so many expectations from myself and others at this point," he said. "I thought I had to do it. It was just a big relief."
Saturday's race was Verzbicas's final outing as a high school runner. He will now spend the summer training for the World Triathlon Championships in Beijing, China in September and then will be off to the University of Oregon. His hope is to run in the 2016 Olympics.
"I think I've done 90 percent of what my goals were [in high school]," Verzbicas said. "But it's a lot more important down the road than what I did in high school. As successful as I am now, I feel like my main success has to be when I'm older."
Verzbicas won the Illinois high school state cross country championship with a three-mile time of 13:54 in November. It was his second consecutive state title. He won it in 14:07 as a junior. He did not compete in the state's track season.
Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at email@example.com.