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Rochester Native Sets World Record in Millrose Games

Marathon, black silhouettes of runners on the sunsetIt is often said that running is 10% physical and 90% mental. Though the sentiment can’t exactly be proven, Rochester native Brycen Spratling certainly gave 100% in setting a world record.

The Democrat and Chronicle reports that last Sunday, Spratling, a 22-year-old graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and Webster Schroeder High School in Webster, New York, set the world record for the 500 meter dash in New York City. A competitor in the prestigious NYRR Millrose Games, Spratling finished the 500 meter at 60.06 seconds, just edging out the previous world record of 60.17 seconds set by Ken Lowery in 1987.

After the race, Spratling expressed his initial disappointment with the results as well as a unique form of modesty.

“I honestly felt like I relaxed a little bit too much early on in the race,” he said. “So when I saw the time, I was disappointed, I really wanted to run 59 seconds. But if that’s the best time ever run in the world, then I’m OK with it.”

If his feelings of disappointment after beating a world record are amusing, consider that his athletic career so far has been full of surprises. Despite his impeccable gifts as a track and field athlete, the Democrat and Chronicle’s 2010 All-Greater Rochester Track Athlete of the Year didn’t even run track until his senior year of high school, which was — incredibly — 2010.

Spratling played football and basketball during his time at Webster Schroeder but switched to track and field during the spring semester of 2010, due in part to his mother’s encouragement.

“He was so quick and fast in basketball,” Brenda Spratling said on Sunday. “I said, ‘Brycen, I think you should go out for the track team.'”

And go out he did. During his initial foray into track and field, the 18-year-old managed to win the Monroe County championships in the 100, 200 and 400 meter events, as well as the 400 meter at the state championships. He even managed to tie the event’s state record.

After graduating high school, Spratling entered Eastern Michigan University as a track and field student athlete. By the time he transferred to the University of Pittsburgh in 2011, he had already become an indoor/outdoor Mid-American Conference champion in the 400 meter. His time in Pittsburgh saw even more accomplishments, such as his breaking of the NCAA 500 meter indoor record as a sophomore, and his earning of second-team All-America honors indoors and first-team honors outdoors as a senior. According to the website LetsRun.com, he ran a world-leading 46.26 seconds in the 400 meter at Penn State University.

Spratling, who graduated from college last December with a degree in forensic science and criminal investigation, was invited to the Millrose Games by the event’s race director because of his impressive collegiate performance. He was the only runner at the 400 meter event without a sponsor.

“Hopefully, that changes soon,” he quipped.

His victory came with a $3,000 reward, and he is now gunning for a spot at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships in Beijing this summer — and potentially a chance to compete in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next year.

For now, Spratling is just focusing on becoming a better athlete. Amazingly enough, he was unaware during the race last Sunday that he was setting a world record — just one of the many ironies of his up-and-coming career as a track and field star.

“I didn’t know I was on a record pace!” he exclaimed, according to the IAAF’s website.