With the lengthy cross country and track and field season finally behind him, San Luis Obispo High School’s Callum Bolger is finally able to join the rest of us in enjoying the finer things in life — like pizza and ice cream.
But before he was able to enjoy some summer relaxation, Bolger, 16, added another invaluable experience to the end of his remarkable junior season last weekend at the Brooks PR Invitational in Renton, Washington, an event that features some of the best runners form around the nation. His result wasn’t what he had hoped for — finishing in 11th place out of 15 runners with a two-mile time of 8:55.87 — but the junior said the trip was a positive, eye-opening experience.
“When I made my move, pretty much every one in the field could match them and do them better than I could,” Bolger said. “That was definitely a little different than what I was used to this season, but when I go into college, I am going to be one of the slower ones.”
In the days leading up to the race, Bolger spent time learning the pre-race routines of the other runners and spent time with his older brother Kieran, a former SLO High runner and triathlete who attends UC Davis. Bolger said Kieran was a big influence on him.
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“When I came up into high school my freshman year, (Kieran) was like, ‘You are not doing anything, come out and run with us and see what it’s like,’ ” Bolger said. “I was a little hesitant at first, but he definitely motivated me to go out there. And once I did, I really enjoyed it, and I have been doing it ever since.”
Bolger showed promise as a sophomore last season, but this year he made a huge jump to the front of the pack.
He finished in first place in 19 of the 28 races he competed in. Bolger was dominant for most of the season in the 800 and 1,600 meter events, qualifying for the state meet in the latter. But he chose to focus on the 3,200-meter race at the finals last month in Clovis. He finished in third place after a dramatic final lap to culminate the year.
“Last winter, I put in different training. I would go faster and longer on runs. That shift made a huge difference,” Bolger said. “That has helped me get on the state-wide and even national stage.”
With all of his success, Bolger will likely have his pick of colleges once recruiting season opens July 1. And when recruiters call and visit his home, they won’t just be chasing one of the best distance runners in the state, but also one of the smartest.
Bolger twice scored a perfect 800 on the math portion of the SAT and hopes to study biology in college.
“If there are two schools that have about the same athletic programs, I am definitely going to go with the one that has the better academics,” Bolger said.
While preparing for his senior season, Bolger said he will narrow his college choices to five and visit each one when school begins. In his free time, he will continue to volunteer at the Bike Kitchen in downtown SLO, where he enjoys fixing beat-up bikes.
For the next week, while he munches on pizza and ice cream, Bolger will scale back his intense training schedule. But he will be back on the big stage in July when he plans on attening the 2016 Nike Elite Distance Camp in Oregon.
Bolger said he is looking forward to seeing what he can do in the years to come, and he hopes it’s something more than just first-place finishes.
“With all that support, it’s really nice,” Bolger said. “I don’t know if this is true, but I feel like I’m inspiring people to get out there and be healthy.”