There have been numerous stars all across the United States in our sport of track & field. Many of those stars have different paths to greatness, some have breakout seasons and others enter high school already anointed as the chosen one.
One athlete, stands above the rest in our mind and that is Potomac Seniors's Mike Newell. He is a multiple-time national and state champion and also holds the distinct honor of still to this day being the best freshman all-time indoors.
Back in 1996 he set the freshman national record for the long jump (24-5) and 55m dash (6.24). To put that in perspective for you those marks would rank 12th and 6th all-time in VA and he achieved them as a freshman. His freshman national records are also the longest standing national class records for an athlete who holds multiple ones.
Jumping and sprinting that well as a freshman is just part of the equation though. He also backed up those performances by ultimately jumping 25-9.25 to set the VA state record in 1998, a record that held for 18 years. Newell though wasn't done there as he would go on to set national class records twice more in the long jump.
Still to this day he holds the freshman, sophomore, and junior national class records in the long jump and joins a very small list of athletes who also hold three records in a single event. That list includes Mondo Duplantis (Pole Vault), Grant Holloway (55mH), Sydney McLaughlin (400H), and Vashti Cunningham (High Jump), Tia Jones (100H), and Mary Cain (1500).
He is the only guy to hold three national class records in a single event and to hold a freshman record in another event.
Like many before him, Newell got his start early on with track in middle school. He began his career competing in 6th grade and by the 7th grade was jumping 21 feet in the long jump. It was then that he really started to turn some heads.
Newell also holds another distinction, he is the only guy from a large school to successfully win an event four years in a row at states. He achieved that feat by winning the AAA long jump 96-99. The only other two guys to achieve that was Bobby Lockhart who won the AA 1600 and 5K four years in a row and Matthew Zajac who won the discus.
There have been a lot of star athletes to pass thru the high school ranks since Mike and there will be more to come down the road. Despite all the attempts though, none have risen to his level to take down his two freshman national class records and for us that makes him the greatest freshman of all-time.