The History Of The Boys Mile In New Jersey

Ever wonder how many NJ guys have gone Sub-4 in the mile? Ever thought about how the high school state record in the mile has progressed over the years, or who the first sub 4:20 guy was?

Of course you have because you're probably all track and field nuts who can't get enough of this kind of stuff.

So I figured what better time then on the one-year anniversary of the last NJ Sub 4 mile to take a jog down memory lane with a little NJ history lesson on the mile.


In case you don't remember, exactly one year ago today (Feb. 15, 2020), Colin Daly, a 2016 grad of River Dell, achieved the magical milestone while running for UPenn when he stopped the clock at 3:59.74 at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational at Boston University!

Daly had splits of 59.45, 1:59.94, and 3:01.35 before he blasted a 58.39 last quarter, including a 28.94 final lap! 

Daly's 3:59.74 was a huge drop of nearly four seconds from Daly's previous PR of 4:03.65 that he ran on the same track last year in 2019 at the Bruce Lehane Scarlet and White Invitational.

Daly became the 27th NJ High School grad to break the 4-minute barrier as he joined some legends of the sport on NJ's SUB 4 list, which is headed by Edward Cheserek, and Olympians Marty Liquori and Robby Andrews.


Marty Liquori, who grew up in Cedar Grove and starred at Essex Catholic High School and Villanova, ran the still-standing NJ high school outdoor state record of 3:59.8 when he finished seventh at the 79th AAU Championships on a dirt track at Memorial Stadium on the campus of Bakersfield College in Bakersfield, Calif. on June 23, 1967.

Liquori was just the third high school runner to ever break 4. Jim Ryun, the first high schooler to go under c 4, won the race in 3:51.1, a world record that stood for nearly eight years!

Liquori went on to make the 1968 Olympic team as a 19-year-old, and reached the final of the 1500m, but suffered a stress fracture and finished 12th. He was the youngest person ever to compete in the final.

In 1969, Liquori finished second to Ryun in the NCAA indoor mile, and then neat Ryun to win the NCAA and AAU outdoor mile championships. He repeated as AAU outdoor champ in 1970, and had his best year in 1971, winning the NCAA and AAU outdoor titles, and striking gold medal in the 1,500m at the Pan-American Games. Liquori was ranked number 1 in the world in the 1500/mile. In 1977, he was ranked number 1 in 5000 meters and set a U.S. record of 13:15.1 

On May 16, 1971, Liquori lowered his PR to 3:54.6 when he finished a few strides ahead of Ryun in the Dream Mile at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. Liquori was injured later that year, and didn't return to competition until 1973.

In 1975, Liquori ran a personal best 3:52.2 in the mile, finishing second in Kingston, Jamaica to Filbert Bayi (who broke Ryun's world record in that race by 0.1 second with a 3:51.0), and he set a U.S. record of 8:17.12 in the 2 mile.

The 3:52.2 by Liquori stood as the No. 1 time by a NJ high school grad until the legendary Cheserek blasted a 3:49.44, No. 3 all-time on the World Indoor list, at the David Hemery Valentine Invitational at Boston University on Feb. 9, 2018.

Robby Andrews, a 2016 Olympian who ran at Manalapan High, checks in at No. 3 on the NJ all-time alum list with the 3:53.16 he ran at the 2016 Millrose Games at the NY Armory. 


How many of you know that two runners from NJ (not Liquori, Cheserek or Andrews) once owned national high school records in the mile?

I am sure some of you know, especially you old timers out there, but for those who don't, it's time for you learn about the historic performances by Tom Skutka and Vince Cartier

Skutka was a senior at Morris Hills in 1955 when he became the first high school runner in U.S. history to ever break 4:20 when he finished first at the State Group 2 Championships at Rutgers University. That broke the national record of 4:20.0 set a week earlier by Tod White of Newport Harbor High in Calif., at the California Interscholastic Federation (C.I.F.) Championships at Chico State College.

The 4:19.5 by Skutka stood as the national outdoor record until Ron Gregory of Sumner High in Missouri ran 4:19.2 on May 26, 1956.  

Skutka went on to star at the University of Kansas, where he ran on the NCAA record breaking 4xmile relay team, and was an alternate on the 1958 U.S. Olympic Team. He later returned to coach at his high school alma mater where he built Morris Hills into a track and field powerhouse,     

Cartier's electrifying performance took place 49 years ago.

Cartier was a senior at Scotch Plains-Fanwood back in 1972 when he threw down a 4:06.6 mile to finish first at the Indoor Meet of Champions at Princeton University's Jadwin Gym. That broke the national indoor record of 4:07.2 that the great Jim Ryun ran for Wichita East High in Kansas in 1965.

The 4:06.6 by Cartier, who split 61/2:02/3:03, held up as the national high school indoor record until Thom Hunt of Patrick Henry High School in San Diego ran 4:02.7 in 1976, and it stood as the NJ indoor record for 40 years! Cheserek finally broke it as a junior at St. Benedict's Prep when he ran 4:02.21 at the New Balance Games at the NY Armory in 2012.

Cartier starred collegiately at the University of Florida where he was a multiple All-American. After his running career concluded, he served as a distance coach at Seton Hall University.   


The race is now on to see who will become the 28th member of NJ's Sub 4 Club! 

There are some great candidates, like Brandon TubbyBilly Hill, Sean Dolan, and Ray Sellaro! Or maybe someone else will get under 4 first?

Tubby, who starred at Hillsborough High and is now running at the University of North Carolina, won the mile in 4:01.11 at the Virgina Beach Invit. on Feb. 1.   

Hill, a redshirt junior at Rutgers who starred at Franklin High, came close when he ran a school record 4:02.11 this past Saturday at a Big Ten Invite at the Spire Institute in Ohio. He'll take another crack at it at the Big Ten Championships later this month at Spire.

Dolan, a red shirt freshman at Villanova, is scheduled to take his first shot at the mile as a collegian at the Camel City Elite JDL this Saturday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Dolan, a national high school champ in the mile who ran a 4:05.01 mile during his days Hopewell Valley,  made an eye-popping college debut earlier this month when smashed the facility record with a winning time of 2:24.40 in the 1000m at West Point.

Sellaro, a junior at UPenn and a North Hunterdon High School grad, ran 4:01.40 in the same race when Daly broke 4 last year. The IVY League schools are competing this indoor season, so Sellaro will have to wait until this spring to take another crack at it.


Only one high school in NJ has produced two Sub 4 milers. Any guesses? Hey, no looking down!!!

Time's up!

It's Ocean City with John Richardson and Brett Johnson.

If Hill breaks 4, he'd give Franklin High two Sub 4 milers. Franklin grad Christian Gonzalez went 3:59.98 in 2012.  

Jeremy Hernandez, who ran at Clifton High, became the first Division 3 runner to ever break 4 when he ran 3:59.01 at the BU Last Chance Meet in 2018 when he was a senior at Ramapo College. Hernandez went on to win the mile at the 2018 NCAA Division 3 Indoor Championships.  

Of the 27 Sub 4 Jersey milers, 15 of them ran their mile PR's in the last 10 years, and 22 of the 27 times were run indoors.

The county with the most Sub 4 runners is Essex County with five, followed by Monmouth and Bergen County with four each.

3:49.44i Edward Cheserek, St. Benedict's Prep, Boston, Feb. 9, 2019
3:52.2h Marty Liquori, Essex Catholic, Kingston, Jamaica, May 17, 1975
3:53.16i Robby Andrews, Manalapan, New York, Feb. 20, 2016
3:54.28i Rob Napolitano, Red Bank Catholic, Boston, March 3, 2019
3:54.92i Ford Palmer, Absegami, Boston, Feb. 26, 2018
3:55.66i Jeremy Hernandez, Clifton, Boston, March 3, 2019  
3:56.75i Steve Slattery, Mount Olive, New York, March 6, 2006
3:56.9h  Ron Speirs, Paramus, Philadelphia, April 30, 1977
3:57.86i Travis Mahoney, Old Bridge, Boston, March 3, 2019
3:58.14i Rob Novak, Bordentown, Boston, Feb. 11, 2012
3:58.02i Craig Forys, Colts Neck, New York, Feb. 6, 2016
3:58.4hi Roger Jones, Ramsey, Boston, Feb. 13, 1982
3:58.62i Jim McKeon, Millburn, Johnson City, Tenn., Jan. 19, 1985
3:58.62i Brett Johnson, Ocean City, Seattle, Feb. 9, 2013
3:58.78i Tim Gorman, Christian Brothers Academy, Seattle, Feb. 11, 2017
3:58.90i Ben Malone, Pascack Valley, Boston, Feb. 9, 2019
3:59.18i Jeramy Elkaim, Livingston, Seattle, Feb. 23, 2013
3:59.21i Chris Hatler, Pope John, New York, Feb, 11, 2017
3:59.2h Cliff Sheehan, Westfield, Philadelphia, April 27, 1985
3:59.35i John Richardson, Ocean City, Lexington, Ky., Feb. 2, 2008
3:59.43i Rich Kenah, Montclair Immaculate, Fayetteville, Feb. 12, 2002
3:59.60 Mike Kerrigan, Blair Academy, Swarthmore, Pa., May 14, 2007 
3:59.6h Jim Crawford, Ridge, Modesto, Calif., May 23, 1970
3:59.74i Colin Daly, River Dell, Boston, Feb. 15, 2020 
3:59.85i Mark Sivieri, St. Augustine, Boston, Jan. 28, 1994
3:59.91i Brian Gallagher, Sterling, Boston, Feb. 14, 1998
3:59.98i Christian Gonzalez, Franklin, Boston, Jan. 27, 2012

NJ High School Boys Mile Record Progression (Indoors)
4:29.8-Vince Braun, St. Benedict's Prep, 1935
4:23.5-Don Philpott, Montclair, 1952
4:20.1-John Kopil, Bayonne, 1953
4:16.9-Marty Liquori, Essex Catholic, 1966
4:16.1-Marty Liquori, Essex Catholic, 1967
4:11.3-Joe Savage, Roselle Catholic, 1973
4:06.6-Vince Cartier, Scotch Plains-Fanwood, 1972 (National indoor record that stood for 4 years)  
4:02.21-Edward Cheserek, St. Benedict's Prep, 2012

NJ High School Boys Mile Record Progression (Outdoors)
4:25.3-Henry Fredericksen, Emerson, 1935

4:22.9-Harry Dwyer, Seton Hall Prep, 1949
4:19.5-Tom Skutka, Morris Hills, 1955 (National high school record /first in U.S. history to break 4:20)
4:17.4-John Loeschhorn, Ramapo, 1962
4:16.3-Jack O'Leary, Essex Catholic, 1964
4:16.0-Mike Garvey, Roselle Catholic, 1965
4:13.2-Marty Liquori, Essex Catholic, 1966
3:59.8-Marty Liquori, Essex Catholic, 1967