Chasing 4:00: Henry Wynne ’13 and His Pursuit of the Remarkable


High school students stood alongside Olympians on May 25 under the overcast New York sky. Finish lines were hung, shoelaces were tied, and competitors were overcome with excited anxiety as they got themselves ready for the hallowed Adidas Grand Prix.

One of those competitors was a face familiar to StaplesHigh School: track and cross-country captain Henry Wynne ’13. Invited to compete in the High School Dream Mile, Wynne took to the track with the top 14 American high school runners.

Out of the 14, he was pre-ranked tenth.

He finished second.

Yes, with a time of 4:05:02, Wynne finished behind only New Jersey’s Edward Cheserek as the top high school mile runner in the United States. Now, at least among some spectators, a particular question is being posed: can Henry Wynne run a four-minute mile?

“I believe Henry has the potential to break four some day,” Head Coach Laddie Lawrence said. “If he does, it will take the perfect race on a perfect day to do it.”

While this past Saturday was not nearly the perfect race or the perfect day, Wynne finished barely five seconds away from the four-minute plateau, eclipsing his previous personal record by a full three seconds — and did so in front of a national audience.

But Wynne is no stranger to the national stage. In his Staples tenure, during which he has received an All-American selection five times over, Wynne has not only received recognition from some of the most significant running publications like MileSplit, LetsRun, and Runner’s World, but has also taken home two national championships in the distance medley relay and, perhaps most recognized, the mile.

“When it gets to that level of competition the energy is ridiculous, and you look around and realize this is the best competition in the country,” Wynne said. “I get a sense of pride that what I am doing is really paying off.”

Accordingly, his work is also paying off at the local scale. Over his Staples career, Wynne holds school records in 14 separate events, has taken home 22 state championships to go along with several other New England titles.

Nevertheless, according to Lawrence, the accolades aren’t what make Wynne the person he is. While the awards are great, Lawrence enjoys just spending time with his team’s captain.

“Hopefully I have not yet experienced my favorite Henry moment,” Lawrence said. “Although there are already so many good memories it would be hard to pick my favorite.”

One memory that Lawrence recalls is when Wynne first joined the cross-country team his freshman year. According to Wynne, his freshman lacrosse coach Paul McNulty offered two options to his players of how to work out in the off-season: lifting weights or running. Fatefully, Wynne didn’t want to lift weights.

“During indoor track in his sophomore year, he made a major breakthrough in lowering his times,” Lawrence said. “Today he is a much stronger, faster, smarter and more coachable runner than he was when he first showed up in the program.”

Needless to say, Wynne no longer participates in lacrosse, as he devotes his time almost entirely to running. Between his periodic competitions, daily workout regiment, and constant leadership of the rest of the team, Wynne, at least to co-captain Sam Cohen ’13, consistently shows his dedication.

“Henry has a way of getting people to listen,” Cohen said. “I respect him as much as a person as I do a runner.”

He continued, “he has an attitude that makes it seem as if he really has not yet realized how good he actually is,” Cohen said. “No one I know would be that humble given his inhuman talent.”

It’s exactly this “inhuman talent” that has propelled Wynne to a spot in the class of 2017 at the University of Virginia where he’ll continue his running career through college — and beyond.

“I haven’t really thought about after college,” Wynne said. “But looking back on this year, I’ll look at my medals and still get nervous and excited thinking about all the amazing races. I’ll think about the ridiculously fun times I’ve had with the team.”

And, according to Lawrence, the fun times will go on.

“After he graduates, I will miss everything about him that he brought with him into the Staples track program,” Lawrence said. “However, I do look forward to having him as a friend once his Staples running days are over.”

Wynne is still waiting for that perfect race on that perfect day to come around for him to break 4:00. However, as he continues to get better and better, that day is fast approaching.

“Personally, everything that has happened still feels surreal, but I know I have a lot more important meets to race in,” Wynne said. “I’m not reminiscing yet.”