This past weekend down in Greensboro, North Carolina, Great Oak's high school senior and Stanford recruit Isaac Cortes cemented his name at New Balance Outdoor Nationals.
In about a 24-hour period, Cortes managed to earn three All-American crowns in three different events—literally, they actually give the recipients crowns.
Saturday night, he closed off the day's events by leading his team from out of second place and into first in the 4*800m relay. Cortes anchored his team with a monstrous 1:49.375s split. The team won in 7:35.06, and he served as the only athlete in the event to break the 1:50s barrier.
Early the next morning, he came back to anchor his relay squad in the 4*1600m relay, where he ran a 4:06.532s mile. The team finished second by 0.06s to Ogden Track Club with a 17:04.61, but Cortes could not have run a more tactical race. Every lap he continued to minimize the gap, only barely missing the leader as he made his final push down that last 100m straightaway.
Cortes' relay team actually holds the national high school record for the 4*1600m when they ran it back in April at the Arcadia Invitational in 16:55.8s. Then, later that night he stepped back on the track to do it again and ran another 800m in 1:50.199s for third in the event and a third chance to get on up on that podium. Coincidentally, the fourth place finisher right behind him was none other than Brandon McGorty, younger brother of Stanford junior and distance-running superstar Sean McGorty.
Cortes' times were exemplary in their own right, but in reality each split was a time he could have beat. The true standout from his performance was the success he had despite being on a grueling triple in a 24-hour span. I was down at Nationals myself competing, and saw with my own eyes the sheer dominance Cortes showed on the track in respect to his elite competition.
In both relays, Cortes carried most of the weight on his shoulders and ran what his team needed to win All-American honors. That attitude and composure in spite of fatigue is most important when it comes to making the jump from high school to college track; Cortes proved he's ready to make that leap.