As the final piece of the puzzle composing the adidas Grand Prix Boy's Dream Mile at iconic Icahn Stadium, Joe Klecker made the utmost of a last minute decision.
Seemingly unfazed by the limited time frame required for frantic preparation leading to a competition with an expansive national presence, the Hopkins High School graduate embraced the opportunity.
"That didn't really weigh on me at all," said the personable Klecker following his fourth place finish. "If I got in or not... it is what it is but being the last man was kind of fun."
Klecker, hoping to snag the coveted slot, utilized the Minnesota state meet to put sheen on his body of work, forging a new state record of 4:06 in the 1600m.
With 80-plus degree temperatures as a backdrop, Grant Fisher successfully defended his title from a year ago; running 4:01:73. Virginia Junior (Loudoun Valley HS) Andrew Hunter (4:02.36) and Mike Brannigan (4:03.18) produced PB’s in leading Klecker to the finish.
"I'm already entered for the Brooks PR Invitational next week, so I was just training as if I was running that and if I got in here, that would a nice bonus," said Klecker who also competed in the GP two years ago.
Sandwiched between Phillip Hall and Andrew Hunter at the introductions, Klecker, rolled out from the start in front of a 'standing room only' crowd; taking a somewhat conservative approach in navigating the initial lap. Into the second circuit, the Hopkins High School grad worked patiently at the latter third of the group.
"I expected for the pace to go out harder, but I started out last and was able to move up throughout the race. I never raced like that in my life and have never been in a field like this,” Klecker said in analyzing his effort. “I didn’t panic and when I had an opportunity to pass someone on the straightaway and go back in. Coming in I thought it was going to be more of a tactical race, but it kicked up which ended up producing a big PR for me.”
Through the opening half, Fisher stayed active at the head of a still-intact bunch. Churning on the final lap, Klecker joined the eventual winner and three others in successfully stretching the chasers. Coming off the final turn, Klecker tracked down Logan Wetzel; leading him to the line in a time of 4:04.13. Wetzel clipped the rail on the final lap. “It wasn’t too bad,” he said. “I was able to recover quickly.”
“It was an excellent race and I had a lot of fun,” Fisher said. “It was great that my family could come out and see me run, and I look forward to what the rest of the season has in store for me.”
“This was fun,” said Klecker. “Quickly looking back at it now, I feel I could have run faster if given another chance to race with all the quality guys here.”