When Brian Hyde ran the fastest outdoor 1,500-meter time in the wo
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ When Brian Hyde ran the fastest outdoor 1,500-meter time in the world this year, he was so overwhelmed he was uncertain how to react.
Instead of waiting for delighted fans at the University of North Carolina track to seek the autograph of an instant celebrity, Hyde’s first reaction was to seek the autograph of runner-up Steve Holman, the top-ranked 1500 meter runner in the United States last year.
``I wanted his autograph,″ the 22 year-old Hyde said unabashedly. ``I wanted him to sign my hat, but I didn’t want to seem like a jerk, asking for his autograph after just beating him.
``I’ll wait for some other time. He’s going to be one of the best.″
Presently, however, Hyde is No.1.
His time of 3 minutes, 35.84 seconds at the UNC Twilight meet May 13 puts him atop the world list.
It also makes him the favorite for the 1500-meter title at the NCAA outdoor championships, which begin Wednesday at the University of Tennessee’s Tom Black Track.
``I don’t know about being the guy to beat,″ said Hyde, a William and Mary academic senior with another year of outdoor athletic eligibility remaining. ``I think I have as good a chance as anybody.″
``Running 3:35 makes me believe I can win. But I also felt I could win indoors.″
Hyde finished fifth in the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championships at Indianapolis in March in 3:59.16, behind Kevin Sullivan of Wisconsin, Graham Hood of Arkansas, Paul McMullen of Eastern Michigan and Passmore Furusa of Louisiana State. It was the first time five collegians had gone under 4:00 in the same race.
Sullivan, Hood, McMullen, and Furusa all will be back this week for the outdoor championships in the 1500. This time, Hyde thinks the result could be different, if he employs a different strategy.
Indoors, Hyde set the early pace, which was slow, and ``I was a sitting duck,″ he said.
``I don’t mind leading,″ said Hyde, the IC4A outdoor 5000-meter champion, ``but I will go hard from the beginning. If its a fast pace, I can have some control.
``If I think I can run 3:35 from the start, I’ll lead. I think I have a better chance off a faster pace if I’m leading. Some guys can change pace faster than me. I think I’m better off from the front.″
That strategy didn’t work indoors because the pace was slow and Hyde couldn’t keep up with the stretch-runners. It also was not the strategy he used in beating Holman.
In that race, Hyde let Holman set the pace. Then, with about 500 meters left, he went for the lead but Holman held him off. Finally, coming off the final turn, Hyde made another move, and this time it was successful. Hyde swept into the lead and went on to win by about nine meters.
``I was surprised I ran that fast,″ Hyde said.
Indeed he should have been.
His previous best at that distance was 3:43.3 _ about 7 1/2 seconds slower. He also was clocked for 1500 meters at 3:42.5 en route to his sub-four-minute mile at the indoor championships.
``Realistically, I thought I could run 3:37 this year, ″ Hyde said. ``It (3:35) just came. I guess because I was just racing, and for the first time in a long time I didn’t have to set the pace.″
``I knew it was fast. I was just excited I had won, and I was excited that I had beaten Steve Holman. Walt (Coach Walt Drenth) has been telling me that if I just race, the time would come.″
Not this quickly, however.
``I thought he would run 3:38 or a high 3:37 if he was at his best,″ Drenth said. ``I thought he could compete at a high level, but I didnt think it would come that fast.
``I’ve told him it’s more important to race than worry about time. He understands it’s temporary (as being the best in the world this year).″
After chasing his first NCAA title this week, Hyde will compete in the USA-Mobile Championships at Sacramento, Calif., in mid-June. If he finishes in the top three, he will earn a place on the U.S. team for the World Championships at Goteborg, Sweden, in August.
``On the plane going to the World Championships, I would like to be sitting next to Steve Holman,″ Hyde said. ``Then I would know I’ve made a big breakthrough.″
Maybe he’ll even get up enough nerve to ask Holman for his autograph.