The aim wasn’t to make a statement or ruffle any feathers.
Colin Sahlman was just trying to run his own path.
The Newbury Park High senior raised eyebrows earlier this year by scratching the CIF postseason, basically trading a traditional run to a state championship for a series of unattached races against faster opposition.
While his friends and teammates went on to run division finals, the Masters meet and at state, Sahlman’s final traditional high school meet was the Marmonte League track and field finals on April 28.
Now that it is over, one of the fastest runners in high school history doesn’t regret never running at the CIF State championships.
“I’m definitely glad what the season has brought out,” Sahlman said. “I got to race what I wanted to. Anywhere from the 400 to the 3,200; I was thrown into the 400 at a league meet — I got to try it out.
“I had a great season and had really fast times, but I also got to have fun and do what I wanted to do.”
The results made the argument that Sahlman had outgrown high school competition.
He ran top-4 times nationally in six different events, including the nation’s No. 1 time in the 1,500 meters (3:39.59), the mile (3:56.24), the 3,000 (8:06.99) and the 3,200 (8:33.32).
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- The Star’s All-County Girls Track and Field First Team for the 2022 season
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- The Star’s All-County Baseball First Team for the 2022 season
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He set the national record in the 3,200. He joined his younger brother Aaron Sahlman and teammates Leo Young and Lex Young to break the 4xmile relay record at New Balance Indoor Nationals in March.
“We picked the races and went out and attacked them,” Sahlman said. “I’m leaving this track season with … crazy national records in cross country and track.
“This is definitely a season that I’ll remember forever.”
The season built to a crescendo on the last weekend of May.
While his teammates were in Clovis at the state meet, Sahlman ran against reigning world and Olympic champions at the illustrious Prefontaine Classic’s Bowerman Mile.
While Alan Webb’s national high school record was a step too far, Sahlman ran the third-fastest mile in high school history, beating a former Olympic bronze medalist at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling to say that I beat an Olympian and a U.S. champion as a high schooler,” Sahlman told The Star in May.
Sahlman was also proud of his final race as a high schooler earlier this month.
Running alongside his brother Aaron, he set a personal record of 1:48.07 in winning the 800 meters at Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle.
“It just shows that I know how to race,” Sahlman said. “It was more of a tactical race. After the first lap I got passed and boxed in. I saw two guys pulling away, so I had to pass this guy on the inside … I had to elbow a little bit to make the pass.
“I did that perfectly. So I know I can read races and I know when I can make my moves.”
His experience has him feeling good about his ability to transition to the distance running dynasty at Northern Arizona University.
“I’ve been in college- and professional-level races and I’ve held my own,” Sahlman said. “I’m looking forward to the NCAA (level).”
He will join former Newbury Park High teammate Nico Young next season at NAU.
“I’m super looking forward to being back with Nico,” Sahlman said. “He is definitely is one of the best in the sport. He does his research, he knows nutrition and a lot about running. He’s grown a lot as a person and an athlete. I’m going to pick his brain and really learn from him.”
The preseason instructions from Flagstaff were simple.
“They just told me to take it really easy, enjoy the summer and we’ll start up in July sometime,” Sahlman said.
Sahlman has taken the two weeks off since Seattle, going a rare full week without running.
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He posted some photos of him waterskiing last week on social media with the caption, “After (three) years I’m finally back out on the water.”
“I was definitely tired,” Sahlman said. “It’s nice to take some time off and just enjoy the summer. It’s been really nice not having to worry about training at all.”
The Gatorade National Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year was also named Male Athlete of the Year by the Ventura County Sports Hall of Fame earlier this month.
As is typical of any high school graduate, Sahlman is emotional about the end of his high school career.
“I’m definitely going to miss it,” Sahlman said. “I have mixed feelings about it. I’m ready to move onto the next level, but we created something so great it’s hard to leave it.
“But I’m glad I’m leaving it in good hands.”
- 100 – Jaren Hyde, Oak Park
- 200 – James Crawford, Agoura
- 400 – Taylor Johnson, Westlake
- 800 – Aaron Sahlman, Newbury Park
- 1,600 – Ethan Godsey, Agoura
- 3,200 – Jonah Bazerkanian, Royal
- 110 hurdles – Khari Butler, Oaks Christian
- 300 hurdles – Micah Contreras, Camarillo
- Shot put – Nathaniel Ocegueda, Fillmore
- Discus – Kade Larson, Moorpark
- High jump – Victor Ezike, Moorpark
- Long jump – Chance Harrison, Rio Mesa
- Triple jump – Powell Williams, Thousand Oaks
- Pole vault – Jake Reed, Oaks Christian