FREDERICKTOWN — Isaac Potes may one day be remembered as the most gifted runner to compete for Fredericktown High School. As a junior, he’s won more races than most seniors. As a Freddie, he’s run a faster 1,600 meters than any Fredericktown athlete before him.
At the district track meet Saturday, Potes became a contender for the state title by winning the 1,600-meter run final in a school-record time of 4:23.
“I had thought he would run about 4:26,” said Fredericktown coach Bob Geiger. “But he’s very competitive. He and the boy from Columbus Academy locked up in a pretty good fight the last lap, and instead of running 4:26, Isaac ran 4:23 and won the whole thing.”
Potes and Geiger have been preparing for the state track and field meet since winter, when Potes placed fourth in the indoor state meet in the 1,600 with a time of 4:30.
“But I hadn’t run all out since then,” Potes said.
Until Saturday’s district race.
“The game plan was to win it and see how fast I could run,” said Potes. “It ended up being pretty fast; I had no idea how fast I was running.”
During the regular season, Potes never had the opportunity to race his hardest in the 1,600. He never had to run all out to beat his competition, and since he was usually running the 3,200-meter run later in his meets, an all-out 1,600 run would only tire him too much.
Geiger said he has asked Potes to run the first 800 meters of his races in 2:12, just to get used to going fast.
“We’ve been setting this up all year,” he said.
During Saturday’s race, Potes took turns leading the race with his competitor. He let his opponent lead a good portion of the final lap, then surged at the end for the win — and the school record.
“The way he ran [Saturday’s race] was very smart, very tough and very mature,” said Geiger. “What I liked best about it was his toughness. He showed toughness that he will need over the next two weeks. I knew he was fast, but I was really proud of his competitiveness.”
Potes simply enjoyed the race.
“It felt good to have competition,” he said.
Potes is getting ready for this week’s regional meet, where he will run the 4x800-meter relay on Wednesday, and the 1,600-meter run on Friday. In the 1,600 he will compete against Carson Britton from Colonel Crawford High School, the defending state champion.
Britton ran a 4:18 Saturday, with no competition to push him.
“We’re going to use him to pace me, and at least get a fast start to get a taste of what the state race will be like,” Potes said.
Geiger believes Britton will run all out this week and at the state meet in an attempt to break the Division III state record in the 1,600-meter run. The record is 4:10.
“We’re going to test the waters,” said Geiger. “We’re planning on two weekends of racing this boy.”
Potes’ goal is to place well at the state meet, and win if possible. On Friday, his goal is to stay with Britton for as long as possible.
“And then we’ll see what I can do from there,” Potes said.
By the end of the season, Potes would like to run a 1,600-meter race in 4:19.
“But that’s pretty stout,” Geiger said. “Right not we’re just talking about racing this boy, and seeing where we stand. We have two chances to race [Britton], and he’s the best in the state.”
Potes will run the 1,600-meter final at approximately 5:30 Friday.