3A Boys Most Improved Runner Of The Year: Ryan Watts

Improvement is what it is about if you are a distance runner


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We have chronicled the effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic throughout the awards series. One of the key elements in our discovery is the resolve that the vast majority of distance runners undertook in preparing for the 2020 season.

It was nothing short of amazing when you consider Edwardsville junior Ryan Watts ascent into stardom as a distance runner. He could have reverted back to his first love: BASEBALL. The one-time pitcher instead dug deeper in his training shoes and put in the work and became one of the elite harriers this season. 

No one could have predicted Watt's going from 15:30 and 114th in the 2019 state meet to an undefeated 2020 regular season (1st race of season was a dual that was a controlled tempo set by the coach). During the journey, Watts dropped his personal best to 14:41. Included in the mix were conference, regional, and sectional titles.

At the Shazam Championships, several MileSplit IL contributors pick Watts as the favorite based on his exploits during the season. And rightfully so, he had a strong opportunity in walking away with the gold medal.

As expected Watts showed aggressive tendencies in the championship flight four. In that affair, he moved to the front of the fray and held serve with the best of the best through two miles. It wasn't until deep inside of the final mile that he lost the grip for a title. Watts took second in the flight and third overall with a time of 15:43. Moreover, not many figures gave him a chance coming into the year to be as great as he was.

-Congrats on your honor Ryan Watts!