The winner of the boys' 1,600-meter run at Sunday's NJSIAA Meet of Champions remains undetermined after the bell was sounded a lap too early at the 52nd annual meet at Ocean Breeze on Staten Island.
As a result, runners in the seeded heat briefly stopped after 1,400 meters before they resumed running,
Liam Murphy of Allentown was on potential sub 4:10 pace with Shaw Powell of CBA a few meters back in second when they crossed the line after seven laps. Coaches and spectators, knowing the runners still had a lap to go, began yelling for them to keep going.
Murphy, after a few seconds of not realizing what was happening, started running again and the others soon followed his lead. Murphy crossed the finish line first after 1,600 in 4:17.35.
In addition to that, the clock started before the race began, which contributed to the chaos.
So will the NJSIAA count the results? Will the NJSIAA order the race to be re-run?
Those were among the questions raised by coaches, fans, and runners after the race.
The answer is expected to come on Monday.
"I will be meeting with Larry White (the Executive Director of the NJSIAA) tomorrow and we will make a decision,'' said co-meet director and NJSIAA Track and Field Tournament Director Al Stumpf. "I will recommend that there are two sets of medals handed out,-one for the 1,600 results as the currently stand, and another set of medals for where the runners finished at 1,400.''
Stumpf said that bringing back the 1,600 runners for a re-run at Ocean Breeze this week isn't realistic.
"With the (New Balance) National Championships next weekend (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the New York Armory), most of the runners wouldn't come back to do a re-run,'' said Stumpf.
Murphy, who came back later to complete a sensational double by winning the 3,200 for the second straight year in an epic battle with Jack Jennings of Mendham, 8:58.16 to 8:58.19, said a re-run doesn't fit in his plans.
"I'm doing the DMR on Friday and the two-mile on Sunday at nationals, so that wouldn't work out for me,'' said Murphy.
Murphy said he was confused about what was going on after he finished the seventh lap.
"I'm not a lap counter, so when the bell rang I just went all out to the finish,'' said Murphy. "When everyone started screaming that we had another lap, I started running again with what I had left.''
What does Murphy think should happen with the results?
"I"d be ok with being the 1,400 winner and I am not really sure what should happen with the results for the 1,600,'' said Murphy, who hit the 1,200 mark in 3:10.2.
Murphy and everyone else in the building knows that Murphy was headed for a red hot time before the premature bell.
"The disappointing part is knowing I was on pace to maybe break 4:10 before that happened,'' said Murphy.
After the 1,600 debacle, Murphy came back to complete a remarkable double by edging Jack Jennings of Mendham in a thriller to win the 3,200 in 8:58.16!! No matter how the NJSIAA rules on the 1,600, Murphy's perfrmance will go down in state history as one of the greatest accomplishments and one of the most memorable moments ever!
For Murphy to come back mentally and physically after what happened in the 1600, and run as fast as he did to win the 3,200 is simply epic on so many levels!!!!
If Stump's recommendation is accepted by White, Murphy would probably become the first ever state 1,400 champion in U.S. history!!! How crazy is that???
And if Murphy is officially awarded the 1,600 title, he would be just the third boy in meet history to win the 1,600 and 3,200 at the same meet, joining Brian Boyett of Parsippany Hills (2001) and the legendary Craig Forys of Colts Neck (2005).