Beating the best

Running right through MW records


Photo courtesy of Jack Witte

With a subtle first lap, sophomore Jack Witte is in first at the Metro track meet. In this meet, some of the best runners compete for a spot at districts but for Witte, he breaks a record. “I just ran my race and it ended up being a fast time,” Witte said. “I knew what the record was and I went for it.”

Christian Naujokaitis, Staff Reporter

Records are made to be broken, but for sophomore Jack Witte, he shatters them. Bouncing back from a season-ending injury is very difficult but Witte runs of the pain. With an outstanding mile time of 4:26.09, he beats the previous record of 4:32.38. Witte beat some of the best runners to come through MW. 

In Witte’s freshman debut of cross country, he was injured with a stress fracture, and his season was cut short while the track season in the spring was not looking very hopeful for him. Witte was injured for about half of the winter conditioning season, but he still made sure to not lose his endurance. Witte is also a swimmer for the MW team since contact on the ground could spark another stress fracture.

“My stress fracture forced me to rest more and ice more,” Witte said. “I knew I had three more years to bounce back so being stressed was one of my least worries.” 

Yet, that did not change his mindset. Witte wanted to prove the odds against him wrong. In his first high school track meet he finished in first place for the mile with a time of 4:50.64. Which is still more than 28 seconds short of the freshman mile record.

With multiple hot practices, long runs and hard workouts, Witte found himself a spot on varsity and since only 3 people qualify for varsity in the mile, it was very difficult. Witte had to beat out 6 other teammates that were competing for the varsity spot. 

“I start to prepare for a race multiple days before,” Witte said. “I usually carb load two days before, then the day before I eat very light and stay hydrated.” 

With the effort and times that Witte was spitting out, he was starting to get attention from other teammates. Especially from a very competitive childhood teammate. His very close friend, sophomore Porter Bickley was very surprised at how well Witte was doing. Bickley and Witte have been running with the same club since they were children.

“It does not surprise me how well Jack competed,” Bickley said. “I have been running with him since we were about 7, and I am looking to try and keep up with him.”

College runner Seth Hirsch graduated with the Class of 2017 and is now a D1 runner at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Hirsch was one of the best runners in Nebraska for multiple years in track and cross country. His name is very well-known in the running community, as he holds multiple records in track and cross country at Millard West. However, one of his records was crushed. 

With an exceptional time at the Omaha Metro Track meet, Witte ran a 4:32.09, which already beats Hirsch’s freshman record of 4:32.38. With that time, Witte finished in seventh-place out of 36 runners. Witte was in first place for the first lap but drops off slightly and he finishes the last few laps very strong. 

Witte did beat the freshman record, but the fastest mile time at Millard West is 4:14.1 by Hirsch.

Witte is one of the few distance runners who qualified for Districts, where some of the best runners in the state will compete for a chance to run at the State meet. Witte got a very strong start to the race and a very powerful finish to get a time of 4:26.09 and a fifth-place medal. With this placement, he qualified for the State meet, where he ran slightly slower but he still finished in tenth place. 

Witte posted on Instagram and tagged Hirsch, who commented back on his post. Hirsch was very supportive of Wittes accomplished with the compliment, “love to see it”. Hirsch isn’t the only one giving advice though.

“This is the same advice I would give anyone, stay healthy, work hard consistently, and work smart,” coach Colin Johnston said. “If Jack can keep improving like he has, he has a good shot of breaking the official mile record junior or senior year.”

It won’t be easy, but Witte is on the right path to beat the best.