By S. Quinn DeJoy and J. Murrer
Feb. 13, 2019: The New Balance Boys’ Mile at the Millrose Games featured the top high school milers in the country, including Sean Dolan and Jake Renfree, ranked No.1 and No. 2 in the U.S., Sam Affolder, who had the fastest time in the mile last spring, and Bronxville brothers Matt and Alex Rizzo. Matt has had an incredible indoor season, and last Saturday at The Armory, he had the biggest win of his career when he outran the best high school milers in the country.
At the start of the race, both Matt and Alex seemed to be running according to their plan.
“Matt wanted to be toward the front and push the pace,” said Coach Ian Clark, “and Alex preferred to start out in the back and pick people off.”
After four laps, or halfway through the race, Matt was sitting in fourth place, trying to find his way to the front.
“Towards the middle of the race, Affolder and Renfree pulled away,” said Matt. “Affolder had a 40m lead. I wanted to get after those two, but I was boxed in by Dolan and Shea [Weilbaker]. It wasn’t until about two and a half laps to go that I broke out of my position.”
Matt moved up, but with just one lap to go, Affolder hung on to the lead (3:37.20) with Matt trailing by almost three seconds (3:40.15).
Like many of the fans, the Millrose announcer, Ian Brooks, was thinking that Affolder’s lead was just too big. “That’s a lot of real estate to catch Sam Affolder,” said Brooks, as the runners rounded the corner to the final straightaway.
“At first I didn’t think it was possible to catch up to him,” said Matt. “When I first started kicking, it was just me trying to get a great time, but with about 50 or 60m left, I knew it was going to be possible to win.”
Rizzo crossed the finish line just 0.15 seconds ahead of Renfree, with Dolan and Affolder finishing third and fourth. Alex Rizzo finished sixth, in a time of 4:12.89.
“What a finish. Oh my goodness me,” exclaimed announcer Brooks. “Well, well, well, well. Just when you thought Sam Affolder had it all done and wrapped. The first four--all under the fastest times of the year, but the one that matters is Matt Rizzo from Bronxville, 4:09.12.”
Over the PA system, announcer Brooks summed it up perfectly. “The most exciting finish to a high school mile in the Millrose Games, certainly in the last 30 years. What a race. What a finish.”
The Broncos have a long history of competing at the Millrose Games, the longest-running and most prestigious indoor track and field competition in the U.S. The games are held right in our backyard at the New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory, but for almost one hundred years they took place at Madison Square Garden.
Coach Ian Clark was not surprised about the outcome of the race.
“Coming in, I knew that they had a chance. During the week, both of them had great workouts, and they were ready to run fast times. The night before, I told my wife I wouldn't be surprised if they PR'd by 8 seconds.”
Clark’s prediction about their fast times turned out to be on target. The Rizzo brothers had qualified for the Millrose Games in January when Matt ran a 4:17.32 at the Hispanic Games and Alex ran a 4:17.69 at the New Balance Games.
Clark has been coaching the boys for many years and had confidence that they would excel.
“Talent only gets you so far,” said Clark. “It’s their work ethic, drive, and respect for the sport that allows them to get faster. I have no doubt they will reset their indoor PRs over the next four weeks. Bronxville gets to witness history being made each and every week.”
Matt Rizzo crossing the finish line to win the Millrose Mile.
The Bronxville girls’ relays teams also competed at Millrose. The girls’ 4x400m relay, Betsy Marshall, Caroline Brashear, Sabrina Mellinghoff, and Eve Balseiro, placed fourth, setting a new Bronxville School record of 3:56.58. The 4x400m relay team qualified for nationals with its fourth-place finish.
“We are very excited to have qualified for nationals, and myself and Sabrina Mellinghoff both ran PRs,” said junior Balseiro.
The 4x400 splits were Marshall in 60.91, Brashear, 60.75, Mellinghoff, 58.67, and Balseiro, 56.26. Balseiro’s time was the fastest indoor 400m split in Bronxville history.
Balseiro broke another school record just two weeks ago at the Varsity Classic. She ran a 58.06 in the 400m dash, bettering the previous record of 58.30, which was set by Lee Shearer in 1995.
The 4x800m relay team, Clio Dakolias, Patty Haggerty, Maeve Sullivan, and Natalie Weiner, placed eleventh at the Millrose Games in 9:29.09.
The Broncos will head to state qualifiers on Sunday. The New York State Championships will take place at Ocean Breeze Track and Field Athletic Complex on Staten Island on March 2.
Pictured at top: Alex Rizzo (center) and Matt Rizzo (right) at the start of the New Balance Boys’ Mile.
Photos by Joseph Hale (@jkh_photo)