Every time Henry Wynne stepped foot on a cross country course or track during his final two years in a Staples uniform, all eyes were firmly placed on the record-setting All-American as he collected win after win and award after award.
Although the transition from high school to collegiate athletics is rarely seamless, current Virginia Cavalier Wynne has enjoyed the challenge that arises from competing with and against some of the best runners in the country.
"It was a lot different getting adjusted," Wynne said. "Having teammates that could dust me in a workout; these guys I've run with, it's different from high school. I had a few things to learn but it's nice to have guys that push me."
Last Saturday, Wynne competed in the 1,500 meter run at the US Junior Track and Field Championships, which were held in Eugene, Ore. and featured some of the best athletes younger than 20 years old. Wynne was the final participant to qualify for the finals after running a 3:57.29 in preliminaries.
"That was nerve-wracking because I didn't know I qualified until my coach told me afterwards," Wynne said. "I was coming around the 200 meter mark and I tripped myself up and had to run for that top three spot."
Wynne ran a 3:54.78 in the finals to place eighth. The top performers from the meet qualified for the World Junior Championships later this month.
"It was not exactly how I planned it, Wynne said. "I wanted to qualify for the world championship team, which was top two. Eighth isn't anything to complain about."
The event took place at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, one of the most iconic sites in domestic track.
"It was awesome," Wynne said. "It's the premium track in the country, that's where all the big meets are held. It was good to get experience and hopefully I'll be back there next year."
His first season at Virginia featured the learning experiences associated with being a college freshman.
Wynne ran a 4:14.18 mile to place eighth at the ACC Indoor Championships in February, and finished 23rd in the 1,500 at the ACC outdoor championships in April. Wynne's fastest mile (4:04.37) came in February at the Iowa State Classic. His best time (3:46.48) in the 1,500 came in the second-to-last race of the outdoor season in May.
"The biggest lesson I learned is how to race," Wynne said. "In high school you can run from the front, set the pace. Here you got guys that can set the pace; it's a lot more tactical and about making the right moves."
Wynne ran all three seasons for the Cavaliers last year and will now gear up for cross country season in late August. Virginia Coach Bryan Fetzer believes a big season lies ahead for the former Westport star.
"For most student athletes, their biggest jumps happen from freshman to sophomore because they've gone through the academic road," Fetzer said. "They understand what it's like to be a student athlete. I think he learned a lot this year, we are unbelievably excited he's part of our program."