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'Once in a lifetime' | Grapevine High School runner setting records with an eye on winning state

Walker St. John and the Grapevine High School distance runners are some of the best in the country.

GRAPEVINE, Texas — From the beginning of freshman year, Rick Miller had an idea of what Walker St. John could accomplish.

“I knew coming in that he was a special talent,” Miller, Grapevine High School’s assistant track coach, said. “Tremendous competitor.”

This track season, though, St. John has surprised even himself.

“I kind of knew I was going to be pretty good,” St. John said. “But to win some of the meets I’ve won this year, it’s been real cool.”

St. John is a senior at Grapevine High School already committed to run at UNC. Miller told WFAA he’s capable of competing at any distance from the 400-meter quarter mile to the 10,000-kilometer 6 mile.

Right now, his 800-meter time (1:53.32) ranks eighth in the state, his 1,600-meter (4:09.24) is third in Texas and 13th in the country, his 3,200-meter (8:56.77) is second in the state and his 5K (14:30.59) is listed as the fastest in the country according to MileSplit, though few states run that distance on an outdoor track. 

For perspective, that’s about the same as setting a treadmill to 13 miles per hour and running 3.1 miles.

He holds the school record in all four events.

“Whatever distance you want to race Walker St. John, he can be tough to beat,” Miller said.

It’s not just St. John, either. The distance medley relay has the 11th-fastest time in the country, and the cross country team’s 5K average of 15:12 at Garmin Running Lane Nationals is a Texas record.

“If I’m honest, the best in Texas history,” St. John said of the distance team. “Not to be too cocky or anything but the numbers don’t lie.”

“The great athletes make everybody around them better, and I think Walker is a great example of that,” Miller said.

St. John won both the 800-meter and 3,200-meter at the area meet to qualify for the regional meet in Lubbock on April 29. Regionals would qualify St. John for state. But his hope isn’t just to win, it’s to state a set a state record doing it.

“One of the very best athletes in the country,” Miller said. “This may be a once in a lifetime type of thing for me.”

St. John said his sister got him into running as a kid, and the motivation hasn’t faded. Training run for St. John can be 13 miles and longer.

“Excellence is a lifestyle,” Miller said. “If you stack great days, great weeks and great months together, it’s amazing what somebody can accomplish.”

The goal is winning state. The dream is the Olympics.

“There’s definitely the sense of personal achievement. I just want to be the best that I can be,” St. John said. “I like winning too.”

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