Francis broke the former school record while competing as Grand’s sole athlete at the Pine View Invitational track meet at Washington, Utah, on Friday, March 28.
“Ever since I got into high school I wanted to break the mile record,” Francis said. “When I was a sophomore, I thought I had broken it but at the end of the season we were informed that the times were wrong,” he said.
In actuality, Ryan Stucki’s time of 4:31.89, set in 2001, was the true GCHS school record. The board at GCHS was later updated to include Stucki’s actual best times in both the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races, instead of his slightly slower finish times at the state meet that year.
“It was a huge letdown, to think I had broken them and knowing I was within a matter of seconds off,” Francis added. “Everyone told me to not to worry about it and you’ll get it next year, but I had seen too many people get hurt their junior or senior year, so I knew that nothing was guaranteed.”
And that’s exactly what happened to Francis last year.
“I was right – I got hurt my junior year, so the records stood for another year,” Francis said. “So, going into my senior year, I wanted nothing more than to break them, but coming off a broken leg in football I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be as fast as I was my sophomore year.”
The weather at Pine View High School last Friday was nice and warm with no wind, making it ideal for racing, Francis said.
With only his mother, Maralee Francis, and brother-in-law, Chris Summerhays, there to cheer him on, Francis lined up for the second heat of the race, which ended up being the second-fastest heat.
“I knew I was in a fast heat because coach [Dennis Wells] had put down my time from my sophomore year,” Francis said.
He added that he wasn’t thinking about setting a new record when he headed to the tournament.
“I didn’t go in there with plans to break a school record,” Francis said. “I just wanted to qualify for state. After one lap, I could feel the blisters coming in, but knew I had to stay with the pack ... It didn’t hit me until the 1,200-meter mark when I saw that we were at 3:23 going into the last lap that I knew I was on record pace, so that’s when I really took off.”
Francis ended up finishing 13th overall out of 103 runners who completed the race. He was the fastest competitor from the 2A classification – most of the dozen runners who finished ahead of him were from larger 4A and 5A schools.
“It was so exciting to watch,” said Maralee Francis, who added that Jacob’s foot blisters were so bad that he wasn’t able to compete in either the 800-meter or the 3,200-meter races at Pine View the following day.
Francis, who is also playing soccer for the Red Devils this spring, has his sights set on a few more running goals. He hopes to break his own school record in the 800-meter run, which is 2:00.37, set in 2012. He also is looking to beat Stucki’s 13-year-old school record in the 3,200-meter run, which is 9:50.35.
“My personal record in the 3,200 is 9:54,” Francis said. “Last week a kid from Rowland Hall ran it in 9:45, so in order to beat him, we will be close to the state record.”
Finally, Francis said he hopes to shave off another four and a half seconds from his 1,600-meter time, which could put him in position to break the state 2A record of 4:25.06, set by Lance Harrison of Richfield in 1986.
“This being my last year of high school, I have to go big and try my best to take down as many records as I can,” Francis said. “I’m also trying to see if I can maybe further my running career at college, if the opportunity happens.”