To say that the past year has been a successful one for Michigan freshman runner Alan Webb would be an acute understatement. It would be more accurate to say that 2001 was “The Year” for Webb, the year in which he set numerous prep records, won a state title in the 800 meters, finished first at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships, and was named an All-American after finishing eleventh at the NCAA Championships.
As if that”s not enough, last week USA Track and Field named Webb the Verizon Youth Athlete of the Year.
“Alan represents the best and brightest of our young athletes,” said Bruce Gordon, Verizon”s president for Retail Services. “His accomplishments on the track are unparalleled, and he has distinguished himself in the classroom as well. He is a deserving recipient of the first Verizon Youth Athlete of the Year Award.”
The freshman began the year by posting a mile time of 3:59.86 at the New Balance Games in New York City. His time made him the first high school runner to break the four-minute mile mark indoors. Then, on May 27 at the prestigious Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore., Webb made history by breaking the national high school record set by Jim Ryun in 1965 with a mile time of 3:53.43. The 18-year-old finished fourth in a field of international stars and counts his feat of breaking Ryun”s record as one of his greatest accomplishments of the year.
Also during the season Webb led his South Lakes, Virginia high school team to victory at the Penn Relays and the National Scholastics meet. The team won two titles at both meets, with Webb anchoring the team to a national prep record-breaking time of 9:49.78 in the distance medley at the National Scholastics.
At the Virginia high school state meet, Webb ran a scorching 47.4 second leg on the South Lakes 400-meter relay team and also took the state title in the 800-meter. He finished the 800-meter in a time of 1:47.74, the fourth fastest prep time in history.
At Michigan this fall, Webb excelled as part of the men”s cross-country team, taking first place in four out of eight meets. The freshman led the team to an 11th place finish at the national championships, placing 11th individually as well.
He was named an All-American along with Michigan senior Mike Wisniewski.
After a year like that, it is not too surprising for Webb to be named an athlete of the year. The talented runner has been heralded as one of running”s brightest new stars and has not only gained personal fame but has also helped bring his sport into the national spotlight.
“This was just an incredible year that I”ll never forget,” Webb said. “It was a thrill for me to be part of raising the profile of our sport, and I couldn”t have done it without the help and support from my coach, family, teammates and friends.”
Webb now has his sights set on the upcoming indoor track season, and the talented runner is hoping to continue his incredible success of the past year.
“I”m excited about racing indoors,” he said. “I”m going to start racing and see where I”m at in terms of fitness.”
Webb has high goals for himself, especially for the NCAA championships, which will be his final meet of the indoor season.
“I just want to get in there and compete, Webb said. “I know I can compete with anyone in the country.”
That, too, could be an understatement.