Danny Simmons, the Utah distance running sensation, ended his high school career by winning the two-mile run and placing a surprising 11th in the one-mile run, all in the same day, at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Because of a lengthy weather delay on Friday, the two-mile race was postponed from Friday night until Saturday morning, so instead of having 24 hours to recover from the two-mile run before running the mile, Simmons had 10 hours.

It proved to be too much.

Simmons defended his national title in the two-mile race, crossing the line in 8 minutes, 38.49 seconds and breaking his own meet record by four seconds.

He ran the first mile with the pack, perhaps saving for his second race, but then he pulled away in the second mile. He ran negative splits, covering the second mile 10 seconds faster than the first (4:38/4:14).

He beat his nearest rival by 14 seconds.

In the evening he returned to the track for what was billed as the big showdown of the meet — Simmons vs. Pennsylvania’s Drew Griffith, who owned the fastest high school mile in the nation this year, 3:57.72.

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As it turned out, a Utahn would break four minutes, but it wasn’t Simmons, who fell off the pace on the second lap and finished 11th with a time of 4:07.52.

Zachary Hillhouse, a senior from Pleasant Grove, bided his time in the middle of the pack and then made a big move with about 250 meters to go.

He pulled up on Griffith’s shoulder entering the final homestretch and they ran to the finish together. Griffith was clocked in 3:59.00, Hillhouse 3:59.62.

Hillhouse thus becomes the 23rd high school athlete ever to run a sub-four-minute mile and the second Utahn to do so. Jojo Jourdon, a recent graduate of Olympus High, ran 3:59.87 at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in February.

Another Utahn, William Steadman, a recent graduate of Herriman High, finished seventh in Saturday’s race with a time of 4:04.40.

That means four Utahns ran 4:04 or faster this season in the mile — Hillhouse, Jourdon, Simmons (whose 1,600-meter time of 4:01.27 in the Utah State championships converts to a 4:02.67 mile time) and Steadman (a converted 1,600-meter time of 4:04.05).

Simmons, Steadman and Hillhouse finished 1-2-3, respectively, in the 6A 1,600-meter final at the state championships.


The long season, coast-to-coast travel and three races in a week’s time (seven days earlier, he ran against professionals in his record-setting 5,000-meter race in Portland) caught up with Simmons.

He will have plenty of time to recover. Simmons will begin serving a two-year church mission in Atlanta on July 8.

He ends his prep career leaving a trail of awards and records behind him: two-time national Gatorade Cross-Country Athlete of the Year, ninth fastest prep athlete ever at the two-mile distance, national high school record holder for both the indoor and outdoor 5,000-meter run, and three-time national two-mile champion.

He will run for BYU when he returns from his mission.

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