San Clemente's Connor Dunne approaches the finish line ahead of Brea Olinda's Austin Tamagno in Saturday's Azusa Meet of Champions Distance Classic. Dunne finished the mile-long race with a nation-leading time of 4:04.59.

San Clemente's Dunne enjoying his turn at front of the pack


AZUSA – Fast times are nothing new at the Azusa Meet of Champions Distance Classic.

But the person who was responsible for the fast times surprised many.

San Clemente’s Connor Dunne set a meet record with a national-leading time of 4:04.59 in the Invitational Mile on March 26 at Azusa Pacific University.

The Colorado signee trailed frontrunner and defending 1,600-meter state champion Austin Tamagno (Brea Olinda) for the first 1,400 before making his move. Dunne edged out Tamagno (4:04.83) and Madera South’s Eduardo Herrera (4:04.99).

“Being the current national leader in the mile, that’s a pretty big confidence booster,” Dunne said. “I still try to stay humble because I know I’m going to have to race a lot of those guys in the future. In that race, I had perfect conditions, but in future races, it might not be the same.”

Dunne’s time was nearly two seconds faster than the record of 4:06.26 posted by Tamagno in what was then the adidas “Dream Mile” qualifier last year. That extra incentive was not available to Dunne, but he had other forms of motivation.

The Tritons senior fits the model of a ‘late bloomer," and a victory over those he has looked up to since he was a freshman meant that much more.

“Tamagno … ran a 4:09 in the 1,600 as a freshman, whereas I was like 4:45,” Dunne said. “I was really far behind. Those guys I’ve looked up to, being in the race with them was a little bit intimidating, but I just went into it with a positive mindset and pushed through the race.”

“It was a big surprise at the time, but I’m really happy about the race.”

A stronger runner than in years past, Dunne has opened himself up to the possibility of implementing different race strategies going forward.

“I’m going to the Stanford Invitational, and I’m planning on leading that race,” he said. “I’m going to try to switch it up and show people that I can be diverse and still have successful races.”

Dunne will be racing the 1,600 at the nationally acclaimed Arcadia Invitational on April 9.

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