Miles Batty, the wonderfully named miler from BYU and Jordan High, will attempt to defend his national title in this weekend's NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Nampa, Idaho. In doing so, he will face perhaps the fastest mile field ever assembled for this meet.
Batty set a collegiate indoor record of 3:54.54 at last month's Millrose Games in New York City, and yet he hasn't put much distance between himself and his challengers.
Seven collegians have run under 3:57 this season, four of them 3:55 or better.
Thirty-three collegians broke four minutes this season, which means 13 sub-four milers didn't even qualify for the NCAA meet.
"Amazing, isn't it?" says BYU distance coach Ed Eyestone. "This is unheard of. This is the new revolution."
Batty faces the additional challenge of doubling in the meet. He will run the trials of the mile on Friday and then four hours later he will anchor BYU's distance medley relay team, which is also attempting to defend the title it won last year. The DMR team, which consists of Batty, Rex Shields, Cade Lendahl and Ryan Waite, has the fastest time in the nation heading into the meet. The mile final is Saturday.
Batty was the only miler to attempt that double last year and succeeded in winning both races. This year several of his challengers also will attempt the same double.
As for the highly competitive mile race, Eyestone says, "Positioning is key. It's not as if he has a big lead over everyone in the field, and with that many people in the field someone is going to have a great race."
Besides the DMR and the mile, BYU has several other contenders in the meet.
Lendahl ranks 10th in the 400-meter dash, Waite 16th in the 800 and Victor Weirich tied for fifth in the pole vault.