Nick Hartle wants to run fast in the 800 meters and believes he can get a couple of seconds under 1:50.
But last weekend the senior from Centennial High School in Las Vegas was all about helping his team try to win its first Nevada boys track and field championship, which is why he was willing to try an ambitious four-event workload in the Class 4A battle that included the 400, 800, 1,600 and 3,200.
“I tried a quad last year, but I did the 4x4 (relay) instead of the open 400,” Hartle said.
In Nevada, regional meets whittle the fields down so that the state championships are a finals-only meet.
At Damonte Ranch High School in Reno last Friday, Hartle won the 1,600 meters in 4:18.03 (at 4,500 feet elevation) and then 50 minutes later turned the 400 in a track record 47.79 seconds – an amazing turn of speed for someone whose range goes up to 5,000 meters, where he is a two-time state cross-country champ.
Hartle figured that the 400 would be the most difficult race to win. State leader Arnold Carrillo of McQueen had run 47.43 at the Arcadia Invitational on April 7. But when Carrillo suffered an injury at the regional meet, Hartle knew he’d have a chance to sweep all four races.
Hartle had dipped below 48 seconds on a relay split, but never in an open 400. For a mid-distance runner, Hartle’s US#58 time felt like his best performance of the weekend.
“It was a huge PR,” he said. “After that I was positive that I could win all four.”
On Saturday, Hartle ran 1:52.53 to take the 800 and 9:28.27 in the 3,200, where he won by 20 seconds.
Hartle’s 40 points gave Centennial a huge boost. The school totaled 79 points and won the state crown by 18.
The UCLA-bound Hartle is Centennial’s salutatorian and also won the school’s outstanding male athlete award at a ceremony earlier this week. He concluded his prep career in Nevada with two cross country titles, six individual track titles and one relay victory.
Earlier this season, Hartle was the anchor for two huge relay efforts. At Arcadia, Centennial won the 4x800 relay in 7:44.00 (US#6). A couple weeks later, at the Mt. SAC Relays, Centennial put together a US#1 distance medley relay (10.05.84). In that race, Hartle split 4:12.8 in the 1,600.
Hartle is the state record holder in the 800 (1:49.91) and 1,600 (4:10.23) and has left a significant imprint on Nevada high school running.
“Because we are one of the smaller states, in terms of numbers (of people), in the past we haven’t seen a whole lot of talent. Nevada has been on the back burner,” he said.
High jumper Gabby Williams and throwers Ashlie Blake and Avione Allgood have also contributed to putting Nevada on the front burner this spring. Hartle would like to do his part to keep it there and plans to run at Great Southwest and New Balance Nationals with hopes of driving his 800 meter time down even lower and perhaps winning a national title.
“I’d like to get as low as I can get, under 1:50 again, and hopefully down to 1:47 or 1:46,” he said.
With 47.79 speed in the 400 meters, Hartle has renewed confidence that he has what it take to move into the all-time list in the 800.
He’ll take a couple more shots at it.
“I kind of just want to go for one more month and then relax before going to college,” he said.