Organizers call it “the fastest high school meet in the land.”
On Saturday, Dan Curts of Ellsworth will be among the elite high school athletes in the country competing in the event — the Brooks PR Invitational in Renton, Washington.
Curts, who has re-written the record books during a stellar career at Ellsworth High School, will take on a star-studded field in the two-mile run at Renton Memorial Stadium.
“I knew that getting invited was real tough,” Curts said. “That was something that I wanted to happen, but it wasn’t something I was necessarily counting on. Getting the invite was super exciting.”
Curts is seeded fourth in a tightly-bunched two-mile field at 8 minutes, 51.2 seconds. Top seed Thomas Pollard of Gilbert High School in Iowa (8:50.5), Andrew Rafla of Timberline High School in Idaho (8:50.5) and Cerake Geberkidane of Colorado (8:50.9) make up the top three.
On paper, he appears to have an opportunity to be in contention for the title.
“I think I’ve definitely got a real good shot to run well. It should be a fun race,” said Curts, who was scheduled to fly out of Portland early Thursday morning en route to Seattle.
The Brooks PR Invitational marks Curts’ second appearance in a national-level running competition. Last December, he competed in the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in San Diego.
The Seattle meet will be Curts’ final appearance as a high school runner. In September, he will take his talents to Iowa State University, where he will be a scholarship athlete for the Hawkeyes.
“I’ll wrap it up here and then hopefully get in a good summer before college,” he said.
Curts enjoyed a memorable career as a distance runner at Ellsworth High School. Last month, he became the first Maine high schooler to run 3,200 meters in less than nine minutes when he posted a time of 8 minutes, 51.24 seconds at the Glenn D. Loucks Memorial Games in White Plains, New York.
That run broke the 38-year-old record held by Maine Olympian Bruce Bickford.
As of June 12 that effort, when adjusted to a two-mile time of 8:54.32, ranks fifth in the nation this spring.
Curts ended his high school career on June 7 by winning the 800, the 1,600 and the 3,200 at the Class B state championships in Brewer.
His accomplishments include 11 first-place finishes in state championships, including two in cross country, three indoor 3,200 titles, two 3,200 outdoor crowns.
Curts also owns the Class B outdoor record in the 1,600 (4:09.88) and is the division’s indoor record-holder in the mile (4:16.38), 3,000 (8:23.85) and the two-mile (9:07.24).
The latter two standards are the top performances in Maine schoolboy history.
Curts, who has battled injuries and illness at points in each of the last two years, appears to be in a good place both physically and mentally. And this time, he doesn’t have to worry about trying to spread his efforts among three different individual races and a relay.
“It’ll be nice just running a single race instead of three or four,” he said.
“I wanted to be a little more in shape now and racing better, so that’s fun,” Curts added.
Upon his return from the Brooks PR Invitational, Curts will return to his summer job at Cadillac Mountain Sports in Ellsworth. He’ll spend the next couple of months training and dreaming about getting back on the cross country trails.
“Generally, I don’t like to compete in the summer so I’m that much more hungry to race again in the fall,” Curts said. “It’s frustrating (not to compete), but I think it’s good.”