He got better each year. It was a process to get here. With each year there was a little more work, a little more confidence, a little more experience. It didn’t come overnight. – Davis coach Corbin Talley
It's difficult to miss Davis High School's Brad Nye when he steps on a track. At 6-foot-5, he towers over his rivals in the distance and middle-distance races. "I don't think I've ever raced someone who's taller than me," he says. Taller is an advantage, but only in the rare cases when it is combined with coordination, relative strength and a good neuromuscular system. When that happens, well, you get Nye.
The Davis senior was, in the words of one collegiate coach, a man among boys on the Utah track scene these past few months. His long, powerful stride made his races look effortless as he piled up victories.
In March he competed against several of the nation's top milers at the New Balance indoor national meet in New York and came away victorious with a time of 4:08.67.
In April he clocked 4:09.67 to set the official 5A state record, which must be accomplished in Utah during the official track season (Luke Puskedra holds the all-class record of 4:09.29).
In May he became the first Utah prep to break 1:52 on Utah soil in the 800, running an all-class state record of 1:51.89 (only Alta's Dan Hutson has run faster, 1:51.79, but that performance was in California).
Still sore from a hamstring injury 10 days earlier, Nye ran cautiously at the state meet. Instead of pushing the pace from the front for records as he had done much of the year, he ran only as fast as he had to for the win and swept the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 distances. In the 1,600 he wore a neoprene sleeve on his hamstring, but it slid down to his foot early in the race and stayed there, despite attempts to shake it off, until it fell off with 200 meters to go.
Nye closed the season last weekend with a return trip to New York, where he was one of 14 athletes invited to compete in a race billed as the prep Dream Mile in the Adidas Grand Prix meet. He faded to ninth place in the homestretch, losing to several of the same athletes he had beaten in the New Balance meet three months earlier, but his time was 4:04.46, which converts to 4:03.04 for 1,600 meters — easily the fastest ever by a Utah prep.
"The time was awesome," says Nye, "but you don't hope for ninth place. Things weren't ideal in my preparation (because of the hamstring); I didn't feel as sharp."
Nye comes from a family with good running DNA. His father, Brad Sr., was a 400/800 runner in Idaho. His older brothers, Aaron and Jace, also competed in the distances for Davis. Jace ranks among Utah's top 10 in both the 800 and 1,600 and went on to win several conference championships for Weber State.
Brad's progression in the mile has been consistent and steady — 4:38 as a freshman, 4:24 as a sophomore, 4:16 as a junior and 4:03 as a senior. "It was the perfect progression," says Davis coach Corbin Talley. "He got better each year. It was a process to get here. With each year there was a little more work, a little more confidence, a little more experience. It didn't come overnight."
This fall Nye will begin competing for BYU and coach Ed Eyestone, the former Olympic marathoner. "With a coach like Eyestone, Brad is going to be one of the greats," says Talley. "Brad's got the commitment, the drive and the ability. I don't think he's tapped out by any means."
For Eyestone, the signing of Nye completes what he calls his best recruiting class. That includes two Washington state runners — Tanner Sork, the No. 1-ranked 800-meter runner in the country with a time of 1:48.74, and Marcus Dickson, who ranks third in the 800 (1:49.33) and sixth in the mile (4:03.18); and two Idaho runners — Erik Harris, a 4:10 miler, and Dallin Farnsworth, an 8:55 two-miler and Foot Locker cross country finalist. They'll join a program that can boast of a No. 4 finish in the NCAA Cross Country Championships and the rise of Miles Batty, a 4:24 prep miler who set a collegiate record of 3:54.54 and won an NCAA championship.
"4:04 milers we can always work with; we can find a place for them on our roster," says Eyestone, going for understatement. "We're excited to get Nye."
Nye, who at one time considered basketball and football as his sports, revels in all things track now, watching races on Youtube, poring over stats, reading running forums. "I just love it — the races and the intensity and passion," he says. "I was disappointed with ninth place in my last race, but it was awesome to be out there mixing it up for four laps. It's a big adrenaline rush."
Utah's fastest high school milers (1600 meters)
4:03.04 ** Brad Nye, Davis 2012
4:05.17 ** Luke Puskedra, Judge 2008
4:07.79 ** Dustin Bybee, Mtn.View 2001
4:08.68 * Steve Shepherd, Weber 2002
4:09.29 Luke Puskedra, Judge 2008
4:09.67 Brad Nye, Davis 2012
4:09.73 ** Nate Robison, Provo 1998
4:10.65 ** Seth Pilkington, Roy 2001
4:10.89 ** Karl Wilcock, Hurricane 2009
4:10.98 ** Jace Nye, Davis 2003
4:11.38 Seth Pilkington, Roy 2001
4:11.79 ** Ryan Andrus, Mtn.View 1997
4:12.04 ** Jace Nye, Davis 2003
4:12.70 ** Patrick Smyth, Judge 2005
4:12.74 ** Nick Fisher, Weber 2004
* Out-of-state, sea-level performance
** Out-of-state, sea-level performance converted from a mile time to 1600 meters