BYU signee Daniel Simmons shattered 5000M high school record over weekend

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SALT LAKE CITY — Danny Simmons' days on the high school track are coming to an end, but one of his final competitions secured his spot as arguably the best in the country.

The recent graduate of American Fork who signed with BYU broke the national high school 5,000-meter record with a blistering 13 minutes, 25.86 seconds Sunday at the Portland Track Festival, snapping the previous record set last year by Newbury Park (California) harrier Lex Young in 13:34.96.

Running unattached in a field that included grown professionals, Simmons finished eighth overall in the 5,000-meter men's hot window, called the Paul Banta Memorial held over the weekend. Dylan Jacobs, who runs professionally with On, won the event in 13:18.18, followed by India international Gulveer Singh in 13:18.92.

Simmons, the two-time national Gatorade cross country runner of the year, was just .86 off the Olympic A standard that would guarantee his spot in the U.S. Olympic trials in two weeks. Instead, the high schooler who currently ranks 25th in the country in the 5,000 meter will try to take an open spot given to the 30 fastest Americans in the event.

Even more impressive was how he got there.

Simmons opened with a 1:04.39 opening 600-meter split to set the standard early. But as he hit the final lap, he took his game to another level, delivering an unreal kick in 57.66 seconds over the final 400 meters to finish each of the final four laps under the 1:05 mark.

"That race was no joke, racing with the pros," Simmons told RunnerSpace after the meet. "I felt it during the last 7-8 laps, but I wanted it so bad. When I saw that I only needed to run a 4:13 to get (the Olympic A standard), I had run a 4:01. I can do this.

"I went for it, even though it was hurting really bad. The start of the first lap of the last mile was so hard, but I went for it. The third lap was a blur, and then the last 800 I felt it."

Earlier this season, Simmons broke the high school indoor record in the 5,000 meters by 18 seconds, a 13:38.86 time laid down in March. He also ranks fifth all-time in the 3,200 meter, and sixth in the 1,600 meter this year (when adjusted to altitude).

"Coming into this race, I was really confident that I could run 13:45, that I could get the standard," Simmons said. "But getting here, actually getting to the day of the race, my mind started attacking me. I'd say doubt crept in, and I was scared, but toward the last four hours before the race, I believed I could still do it, I could still run the Olympic trials standard. I got my energy back up, but it was still scary running as a high schooler against a lot of fast guys."

Simmons said he'll compete at New Balance Nationals, which will be held June 13-16 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, while his American Fork team competes at Nike outdoor nationals June 12-15. He'll compete in the two-mile Friday and the mile Saturday, where he hopes to finally accomplish his dream of logging a sub-4 minute mile, he added.

Then it's off to serve a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Atlanta, Georgia, beginning in July.

Simmons wasn't the only Utah harrier to impress at the Portland track festival.

BYU senior Anna Camp-Bennett finished first with a time of 4:08.53 to clinch her first national championship in the 1,500-meter final Saturday at the NCAA women's outdoor track and field championships at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, June 12, 2021.
BYU senior Anna Camp-Bennett finished first with a time of 4:08.53 to clinch her first national championship in the 1,500-meter final Saturday at the NCAA women's outdoor track and field championships at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, June 12, 2021. (Photo: Nate Edwards, BYU Photo)

Anna Camp-Bennett, the former BYU national champion from Fillmore who runs professionally with Utah's Run Elite Program (that also sponsors Olympic marathoners Conner Mantz and Clayton Young), won the 1,500 meter women's race in 4:07.13. Her adidas teammate Whittni Morgan (née Orton), the 2021 NCAA cross country champion from BYU and Panguitch, finished fifth in 4:08.29.

Kenneth Rooks, the former BYU national champion who overcame a fall to win a U.S. national steeplechase title and now runs for Nike, pulled away with a 1:03.96 finish in the bell lap to win the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase in 8:18.77.

Lexy Halladay-Lowry, who redshirted the 2024 outdoor track and field season with BYU, finished fifth in the women's 5,000-meter Maurten race in 15:02.89, easily clinching the Olympic trials A standard of 15:10.00 with her personal-best time.

Davin Thompson, the former Skyridge High standout and BYU harrier who also redshirted the 2024 season, finished eighth in 28:31.75 while running unattached in the men's 10,000-meter Maurten race.

Aubrey Frentheway, the former four-time All-American at BYU who now runs professionally with Saucony, finished fourth in the 10,000-meter IncubatorU race in 32:33.33.

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