One of the first comments Tony Weiss said to his mother Laura after he finished his 1500-meter run wasn't about time or his stamina. It was about something else. "Mom, did you see that guy next to me? He had a goatee!"
Laura Weiss laughed it off, but was surprised at the "diversity you see developmentally."
Weiss competed against other boys in the 14- year-old age group at the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics track meet held July 31- Aug. 5 in Hampton Roads, Va.
Weiss may have noticed the goatee as he finished the race, but said he was very nervous as he stood at the start line. He just tried to think about his splits for each lap.
Weiss told himself again and again as he stood at the line, "Fifty seconds for the first lap of the race, 75, 74 and 69 for the next three laps around the track."
As an athlete runs faster as the race continues, they are "negative splitting," which is when their splits for each lap get lower, not higher. This accomplishment is hard for any athlete. The technique can help an athlete catch people and Weiss likes to think of himself as a come-from-behind kid.
"I always let someone else lead and pass them on the last lap," Weiss said.
Weiss didn't pass all his competitors on the last lap and ended up with an 11th-place finish in the highly competitive national track meet.
"This was his first year running. So we had no idea he would qualify for nationals when he started," Laura Weiss said.
Laura said her son had a good season in the spring running track at Baldwin Junior High.
Because of this success, and also because one of his close friends, Carson Barns, participated in the track program, Weiss decided to pursue summer track.
Many of the nearby summer programs had either faded away or were looking for coaches. So Weiss decided to run for the same track club as Barns.
Both carpooled to practice everyday at Johnson County Community College, about a 30-minute drive from Baldwin.
Despite the long rides, Laura Weiss said she was excited about the outcome of the season, including some unforseen outcomes, such as new friendships.
"These kids are tight," Laura said. "These guys are some of his best friends now."
Weiss said he was pleased with this season's outcome. He said he had set a goal for himself at the beginning of the summer and was able to meet it.
"I wanted to make it to nationals and improve on my time," Weiss said. "At the beginning of the summer I was running a 4:45 (in the) 1,500, but at nationals I ran a 4:32."
The improvement that Weiss has made during the summer has made him eager for more- at both the junior high level and the summer track level.
"In school I want to improve my time quite a bit," Weiss said. "I want the school record."