Quincy Wilson could earn an Olympic bid in the 400 meters at the US Track Trials

EUGENE, Ore. – In the wake of what he described as one of the best days of his life, Quincy Wilson studied the times of the men he raced against. He noted that many of them ran the best 400 meters of their season, if not their entire career.

“I pushed them today,” Wilson said, flashing his irresistible smile. “Because they didn’t want to get beaten up by a 16-year-old.”

Wilson’s rivals — those who can legally drive and vote — will have to deal with him again. Wilson, a Bullis junior who has exploded onto the national sporting scene, advanced to Sunday’s 400-meter final at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials with his historic second in three days. On Monday evening, just weeks after earning an A as a high school sophomore and days after being named All-Met Athlete of the Year by The Post, Wilson will run one race with a chance to compete in the Paris Olympics.

Wilson stormed into the finals with a courageous run in the semi-finals, edging past a pair of rivals in the final 100m to finish third in his heat in 44.59 seconds. The American high school record had stood for 42 years before Wilson ran the 400 meters in 44.66 seconds in the opening round on Friday. It only survived for one day before Wilson broke it again.

“It’s been 42 years and no one has been able to break that record, and I broke it twice in two days,” Wilson said. “It means a lot to me, because it means my hard work is paying off – staying longer after workouts, before workouts.”

The Hayward Field crowd cheered for Wilson as he settled into the blocks, wearing a lavender racing suit with the word “Bullis” across his chest. Wilson tried to block his kick, but it cost him early in the race. After 200 metres, he was in eighth place. He came around the final turn in fifth place, looking like he was in trouble.

“Stay calm,” Wilson thought. “One hundred percent, stay calm. I didn’t go out the way I wanted, but as my coach said: the race starts at 300 metres.

Above all, Wilson had confidence in the work he did, and in all the hills and grueling 300-meter sprints he ran. He ran the final 100 meters in 12.06 seconds, the fifth-fastest split among the 27 semifinalists, and caught all but Quincy Hall (44.42), Bryce Dedmon (44.44) and the powerful Vernon Norwood (44.50).

“Everything I do is heart,” Wilson said. “A 16-year-old is likely to be intimidated when he goes to the big competition. Vernon, he’s 32. I’m half his age. I’m just running for my life when I’m out there. The race plan has gone out the window.”

The performance validated Wilson’s belief that he could endure three rounds over four days at the drying distance. “I’m 16,” Wilson said, laughing again. “I didn’t even feel anything.”

Not every competitor converted. Michael Norman, a world champion, competed in his first American Trials at the age of 18. Norman was impressed with Wilson — “amazing,” he said — but hesitated when asked if he viewed Wilson as a legitimate contender to finish in the top three on Sunday and capture an Olympic spot.

“It’s tough,” Norman said. “There are people fighting for money. He got to the final. It’s very difficult to say. This is probably the first time he’s done three rounds. He’s 16. I remember I did three rounds in the 200m, and I was cooked. But the kids Different now, anything is possible.”

The 400-meter final is scheduled for Monday at 9:59 p.m. ET. If Wilson finishes in the top three and manages to qualify for the Olympics, it will present a unique complication for him: If he competes in Paris, he won’t have time to attend driving lessons.

When Wilson went off the track on Sunday, his coach, Joe Lee, met with him. Lee told Wilson for the first time that he was proud of him. He then quickly began detailing his race and explaining how he could improve for Monday, the next biggest race of his life.

“I can’t wait until tomorrow,” Wilson said.

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