As soon as Connor Revord of Tampa Jesuit runs the 1600 meters at the Nike Outdoor Nationals in four weeks, the longtime West Florida distance standout will turn his focus to training for his final fall sports season as a high school athlete. However, rather than tackle the terrain of the state's cross country courses, as he's done for the past three autumns, Revord will be tacking his fellow student-athletes. In a move certain to scuttle the predictions of Sunshine State observers and fans, Revord plans to play football for Jesuit come August.
Revord, who will run the 3200 at the Golden West Invitational on June 7, has been a major player in Florida track and field from a young age, running 4:29 for 1600 meters as an eighth grader. This spring, he won the 800 and the 1600 at both the 2A District 9 and the 2A Region championship meets and lowered his personal bests to 9:17.41 in the 3200, 4:14.51 in the 1600, and – perhaps most impressively – 1:53.48 in the 800.
While Revord has shone in cross country as well, the turf has not been as kind to him as the oval has. Revord has placed 7th, 11th, and 5th in the 2A State CC Finals – fine for most, but below expectations for an athlete of Revord's caliber. “Cross Country has been an up and down roller coaster ride for me in the last few years, leading to some disappointment in the end result,” the former resident of England admits. “It has been kind of frustrating at times and very tough on my body physically running the higher mileage. I feel like I really haven't hit my potential in cross, and that it may not be my type of race.
*Over the past three years I have had a tremendous amount of fun running cross country with the team,” Revord summarizes, “but I thought about my future in the sport and found it was time for a change.” And this is no act of simple rebellion; football is nothing new to Revord, who played for four years before entering high school. “People are going to speculate and ask questions like 'why would he do something like that,' he acknowledges, “and I will say back is because I feel it is the right thing for me to do. I feel passionately about playing and have wanted to since my freshman year.” Having competed in track since he was eight years old and setting three age-group marks along the way, Revord even sees a season away as beneficial. “This break from cross country will, I think, help my legs recuperate, so they will be fresh come track season.” he says. “Hopefully, I will bring some more speed to the table as well. I know the team is still in good hands without me, and still has a great chance at winning it all this year. I wish them the best of luck and will be rooting for them all year long.”
Despite dropping his already-solid 800 PR by almost two seconds in one race several weeks ago, Revord – who has notched an unofficial split of 51-point in a 4x400 -- shrugs off the idea that the event has perhaps become his best one. “Recently I have been running some fast 800 times, trying to show some people that I have some speed,” he explains. “However, I wouldn't say that it is 'my race' -- the mile or 1500m has always been my event.” He sees focusing more on the 800 as part of both a greater plan and an overall shift in emphasis: “I have gone away from the 3200 as my secondary event and put the 800 more as that role in order to keep my turnover for the mile,” he says. “I do still think I can be competitive in a big 800m race, though, because I know I can run faster than 1:53.”
Despite his plans to skip competitive running this fall, don't think that Revord is any less intent on his goals in track than he's ever been. “At Golden West, I just want to hold onto the leaders and let them take me as close to 9 as I can go,” he says. “And at Nike I would like to get into one of the fast heats of the mile, it would be a great opportunity for me to get close or under 4:10.”
Asked if coming to Jesuit as a freshman who had already run under 4:30 meant increased pressure from the start, Revord says no, but adds, “it did make me set my goals higher than most freshman. The only pressure I have is the pressure I put on myself for not hitting those goals when I want to.”
As for why he's been able to improve steadily throughout high school despite having been in the sport for so long, he says, “I credit my steady improvement to rest. I have always taken time off from running in order to keep myself from losing my edge or my passion for the sport, in order to come back healthy and strong and ready to work.” He's also not shy about giving credit where it's due. “[My parents] have been behind me every step of the way, whereever running took me. They sacrificed many things that are important to them just so I could have the best running experience. My dad, especially, has put me through workouts I thought weren't possible, only because he knows that it will make me better. I am thankful for both my mom and my dad, my family and all my supporters over the years, who have helped me become who I am today.”
Who Revord is makes for an impressive resume already, but with even bigger goals on the horizon and the experience necessary to focus on them absolutely, the 2009 spring season promises to be an interesting one, both in the Bay Area and beyond.