High School Sports

He’s one of the best runners to come out of SLO County, but one goal had eluded him

SLO High senior Callum Bolger receives his first-place medal alongside Cooper Teare (left) and Luis Grijalva at the CIF State Track and Field Finals at Buchanan High School in Clovis after winning the 3200-meter event.
SLO High senior Callum Bolger receives his first-place medal alongside Cooper Teare (left) and Luis Grijalva at the CIF State Track and Field Finals at Buchanan High School in Clovis after winning the 3200-meter event. tgibson@thetribunenews.com

Four years of training. Four years of early morning runs. Four years of crafting the perfect race strategy. For Callum Bolger, four years boiled down to one race on a steamy Clovis night at the CIF State Track and Field Championships in June.

Bolger had run in bigger races against better competition before, but the fact that it was his final high school competition — and he fell short in the same event, the 3,200 meters, the year before — made it biggest race of his life. And he nailed it.

“It really was the peak race of my entire four years,” Bolger, now a San Luis Obispo High School graduate, said in a phone interview this week.

His final lap was something to behold, completed in a blazing 55.51 seconds, also his fastest, giving Bolger the first individual state title by a SLO County athlete since 2008. It was the perfect end to a decorated high school career that will have Bolger go down as one of the best track and field athletes to come out of the area.

For his accomplishments, Bolger has been named The Tribune 2017 Boys Track and Field County Athlete of the Year.

Rise to the Top

Bolger’s win at the CIF state meet was the cherry on top of an already impressive list of accomplishments.

He started making a name for himself as a sophomore with a win at the PAC 8 League Finals, but it was his junior year when things started to take off. During the cross country season, Bolger finished second at the CIF State Cross Country Championships and third at the CIF State Track and Field Championships.

Soon thereafter he signed with Stanford University — which recruited him based on running success, his 4.5 GPA and perfect score on the math portion of the SAT — where he will enroll in the fall.

Bolger took his running to a new level his senior year.

It started with a dominating cross country season that included a CIF Division 4 state championship that broke a 25-year-old school record, a 10th-place finish at the Foot Locker Cross County National Championships and the honor of being named the Gatorade Boys Cross Country Player of the Year.

He followed that with a run to the top of the podium in Clovis this spring. But there was still one thing that eluded him.

“The whole season, I didn’t (beat my personal best) in the mile, so I wanted to be able to do that my senior year,” Bolger said.

So following his state title, Bolger headed to Seattle to compete against some of the nation’s best at the Brooks PR Invitational. He finished sixth in the 1-mile race with a time of 4:05.06, a new personal best and another school record notch on his belt.

Starting Stanford

This summer, when he’s not doing manual labor installing green houses in Santa Cruz, Bolger has been exploring his new training regimen prepared by the Stanford coaching staff.

“There is a lot more weightlifting stuff,” Bolger said. “At SLO High, we did a lot of core and body weight exercises, but at Stanford they are using more weights.”

Bolger admitted that he has mixed feelings about the upcoming school year when he plans to study biology.

“I’m definitely excited, but I am a little bit worried, too,” Bolger said. “The academic rigor will be a definite increase from what I am used to. I’d say I welcome that challenge, but it will be a tough transition to get through in the first few months. Overall, I am really stoked to get up there and start this new phase of my life.”

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