Hillcrest’s Davies breaks 43-year-old 3200 track recordMay 24, 2021 02:44PM ● By Julie Slama
Hillcrest High’s Anthony Davies broke the long-standing school mark in the 3200 meters, which was set in 1978. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Hillcrest High senior Anthony Davies is a racer. He’s out to beat the other runners, not to try for a certain time.
“I do better when I race people,” he said.
His coach, Scott Stucki, agrees: “He’s a lousy ‘time trialer.’ He can run a pace and hit repeats in practice, but he’s the kind of runner who wants to beat people in the meets.”
At the April 17 Davis High Invitational, Davies raced against some of the state’s top competition in the 3200 meters.
“I wanted to just go for it,” he said.
Stucki was clocking most of the early 400s of the eight-lap race at 70 and 71 seconds. Then, when others in the race picked it up around lap five, Davies didn’t. He dropped to fourth place, which worried Stucki.
“I knew the quality of runners in the race and knew Anthony likes to race them. He was 20 meters back with a lap to go. I was thinking he had to run a 60 for the school record, when he actually needed like a 63,” he said, thinking it might be another missed attempt at the 43-year-old school record.
Davies had run an indoor track time faster than the record before COVID-19, but indoor school records are kept separate from outdoor records, Stucki said. The coach had expected Davies to get the outdoor 3200 record last spring, but with the pandemic, the UHSAA canceled the spring sports season.
Earlier this season, Davies competed at a meet at Snow Canyon. He ran well in the 1600 on the first day, but the lack of training after an Achilles injury proved to be an issue on the second day of the meet when he raced the 3200.
At other meets, he didn’t have much luck inching toward the 9:27.63 record that was set at the state meet by Dave Griffin in 1978.
However, Davies wanted to beat that pack at Davis High, and he needed the time to do that.
“I just decided to pass as many of the runners as I could,” he said about laps seven and eight. “It didn’t seem like I’d get the record until that last lap. I felt good.”
So good, he ran that split in 58 seconds and got the win and the record. His time was more than six seconds faster than Griffin ran.
“It’s a really cool experience,” he humbly said.
Stucki knew Davies can run fast. At his indoor meet, he had a “huge kick” to set that record at 9:37, six seconds faster than the previous mark.
“I knew he could run fast; it was pretty cool to watch. I think he can run a 9:15 at state,” Stucki said about the 5A meet scheduled for mid-May at Davis High School. “He’s so great, talented; he produces fast times. The boys just love him. Nobody holds his successes against him; his wins are like their wins. They all want to see him break the records.”
Davies, who would like to beat some of his cross country rivals from other schools at state, also hopes to better the 1600-meter record of 4:13.44 at this year’s state meet. It was set by Griffin’s teammate, Blaine Anderson, in 1976.
Early this season, he ran about two seconds off the time with a 4:15.38. Anderson came to watch Davies run the 1600 recently at BYU.
Anderson’s time “is a good time. It was hard to get back then and it’s hard to get today,” said the previous 3200 record-holder, Griffin, who went on to run on a scholarship at Weber State after he graduated from Hillcrest. “Blaine was in a class of his own.”
When Griffin learned his record was broken, he wasn’t sad.
“It’s just like, kind of a relief, a little bit,” he said. “Somebody’s able to do that. That’s awesome. I was excited for him.”
Griffin remembers his race had perfect weather at state, which was held at Brigham Young University.
“It was really kind of unexpected because I hadn’t been that close to the record,” he said. “The way I run is just to go out and win, whatever it takes. It happened to be that day that we ran a good, fast pace and a kid from Bingham High and I went toe-to-toe on the race. I happened to break the school record. The coach came up and told me afterwards that I had broken the school record. I was kind of in awe, thinking, I didn’t think I was that close, but that was kind of fun.”
Griffin finished second to Farley Gerber in that race as well as the 1600, which again, they alternated taking the lead in the final 400 to a photo finish.
“The funny thing is we happened to be roommates in college,” he said about his college teammate who went on to become a NCAA champion and world-class 3000-meter steeplechase athlete who was named to the Utah Hall of Fame. “I was kind of a young, inexperienced kid. My coach didn’t talk to me a whole lot about who was out there, and I haven’t had a lot of competition except for that kid, and he was in my region. The only thing I went into a race was, I wanted to win. I didn’t care what my time was. I just wanted to win.”
Griffin, who plans to be at the state meet this year to meet Davies and the team, said he didn’t think of his time as one that would stand up all these years; he knew Anderson was the star of the team.
“I never thought of myself as a great runner because I had him. I couldn’t come close to his mile time. I’m thinking I’m not very good when on any other team, I would have been the star,” Griffin said, adding that Anderson preferred the middle distance races.
It wasn’t until Griffin, who had been named outstanding track athlete his senior year, became an adult and was coaching track at North Davis Junior High and Clearfield High, that he realized he was fast.
“It’s a good time. For years, I didn’t realize how fast it was until I started coaching, and I realized it was a fast time,” adding that he later learned it was one of the fastest ever run in Utah. “I didn’t realize that.”
Griffin said his training methods didn’t mirror those of today (Davies estimates he runs about 50 miles per week). He said they’d run distance and interval days, but it wasn’t as intense or organized as athletes now.
It wasn’t until Griffin’s senior year when he and six others on the cross country team started running about three miles each morning.
“After two weeks, I was the only one left running in the morning,” he said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of training. We didn’t train like they do today. I rarely ran over five miles, but I would ride my bike. It was my brother who pushed me in high school (track).”
Griffin’s older brother got him into running at Midvale Junior High. Griffin didn’t make the team in seventh grade and was an alternate in eighth grade. So as a ninth grader, he asked his coach what he would get if he broke his brother’s mile mark, which was “5 minutes or 5:01, something like that.”
“He said, ‘anything you want,’” Griffin recalled. “So, I broke the school record that year. It was a 4:59.9.”
Griffin didn’t get the pair of sweats he wanted and had worn that season, instead the coach gave him a trophy.
Nowadays, Midvale Middle students don’t have track as a sport so his mile record, as well as the 2-mile Hillcrest track record, still stand.
“Records are there to be broken and to strive for; it gives us something, a goal. I’m happy for him (Davies),” he said. “And I’ve rationalized it a little bit. I’m always going to have the mile and two-mile record since they don’t run those anymore.”