Phillips Academy star Alex Fleury’s spring has been nothing short of historic.
When you shatter a pair of Eagle-Tribune area distance running records — one that was more than 20 years old — it is certainly a season to remember.
“This has been an incredible ride,” said Fleury, a junior from North Andover. “I’m so honored to have reached such fast times. I never thought I would be running so fast.”
Two weeks ago, Fleury set a new Eagle-Tribune area record in the mile with a blazing 4:08.32 at the Music City Distance Carnival in Nashville, Tenn.
That bested the old area record of 4:09.40 run by Timberlane’s Jason Vanderhoof in 1996.
On May 11, Fleury set a new Eagle-Tribune area mark in the 800-meter with a 1:52.43. That broke none other than — his own record of 1:53.79 he set in the winter. Prior to that, the mark belonged to Andover’s Devin Connell (1:53.96) set in 2017.
“It is such an honor to have broken those records,” said Fleury. “There have been so many great runners in the history of this area. It’s a great area for track and field. I’m so honored to own those two records. It really feels amazing.”
This spring comes after a winter when he became the first Phillips Academy athlete to earn Eagle-Tribune indoor track Athlete of the Year in the 30-year history of the award.
“Alex’s commitment to the sport expands well beyond his impressive performances,” said Phillips coach Becky Hession. “He is an exemplary role model in the fine art of hitting the balance point between fun and focus when it comes to the daily rhythm of training and competing.
“He is well positioned to keep pushing the boundaries of his potential and to have a strong connection to the team every step of the way.”
BECOMING A RUNNER
Growing up, soccer was Fleury’s first love. And it was his work on the pitch that led him to track.
“My parents saw that I was fast in soccer, so they signed me up for track in the sixth grade,” he remembered. “I tried it out and saw that I was decent, so I decided to stick with it.
“The more I ran, the more I developed a passion and love for it. I took up cross country in the eighth grade, and I loved it. I have no idea where I would be if my parents hadn’t signed me up.”
It was in the summer before high school that he truly hit a breakthrough on the track.
“I was frustrated because I couldn’t break five minutes in the mile,” he said. “That summer I ran the 1,500 at a (USA Track and Field) national race in Sacramento and ran a 4:47. That was by far my fastest time. That’s when I realized, if I work hard, I could really lower my times.”
When high school arrived, Fleury strongly considered North Andover High. But after applying to and being accepted to Phillips Academy, he decided it was the place for him.
As a freshman, he ranked third in the Eagle-Tribune area with a 4:29.07 in the mile.
Last year as a sophomore, he was a three-sport Eagle-Tribune All-Star, in cross country — running a 16:08 5K — and both indoor and outdoor track. Indoors he ran a 4:19.90 mile and outdoors he led the area in the mile (4:19.80) and was fourth in the 800 (1:57.56).
This fall Fleury was again an Eagle-Tribune All-Star in cross country (16:08 5K), then broke ground by winning the indoor track MVP.
But he felt he made a major jump heading into this spring season.
“At the end of indoor season I had only improved my mile by about 4.5 seconds,” he said. “That was less than I was planning on. This spring, I went from about 4:15 to 4:08. That was an improvement I never thought I would have. I was so excited about that.
“And in the 800 I blew my time from the winter out of the water. It really increased my confidence that I could run those faster times, even in the big races.”
Fleury’s biggest race so far was at the Music City Distance Carnival, when he set the area mile record.
“The chance to run against such elite competition was incredible,” he said. “Most of the race I was in the back of the pack, so I didn’t realize I was running that fast. I ran as fast as I could the final lap, and when I crossed the finish line I couldn’t believe it said 4:08.”
Next up, Fleury will be competing at New Balance Outdoor Nationals on June 13-16 in Greensboro, N.C.
“My goal is to win the championship (first-tier) mile race,” he said. “I have the confidence. I have built up a good base and I feel strong. If I can run a similar time that I did in Nashville, it could be good enough to win. I’m going to go for it.”
Contact David Willis at @DWillisET or DWillis@eagletribune.com.