Selwyn races out in front with a gust of wind brushing across his face. With sweat dripping down his back and his mouth panting, he hears footsteps and proceeds to push his legs forward.
As he inches closer to the finish line, his eyes stay on the caution tape like a cheetah staring at its prey. As the tape becomes bigger and bigger, he flails his torso across the finish line and carries the tape across with him, raising his hands in triumph.
Alex Selwyn, a freshman at Palo Alto High School, is quickly becoming widely recognized among the Paly cross country team. He is one of Paly’s top underclassmen runners and has been running for a number of years.
Selwyn got his first taste of the thrills that comes with racing when his dad took him to an annual five mile road race when he was just seven years old.
“Without having any prior training, I gave it a shot and finished in one hour,” Selwyn said.
Selwyn was inexperienced and slowly ran beside his dad nervously at the beginning of the race. However, after the first hundred meters, Selwyn was able to slowly get into a comfort zone and all of the butterflies slowly started fading away.
With every second, his confidence and level of joy increased as he approached the finish line. With the caution tape in sight, a rush of adrenaline hit him as he burst across the finish line, carrying the tape across with him.
“Once I experienced that feeling I enjoyed it,” Selwyn said. “It still remains with me when I race now.”
Throughout his life, Selwyn has always been one of the fastest kids for his age. He played soccer for four years and his teammates and opponents would always have a hard time keeping up with him. Parents would see a small kid bolt across the field with unbelievable speed and wonder how an eight year old kid’s legs could move that fast.
Since then, Selwyn has been taking running more seriously and has participated in many races for Palo Alto High School including the Early Bird Invitational and Gunn Alumni meets.
A few years ago, Selwyn joined the Peninsula Flyers, a Bay Area cross country club, where he first met current cross country coach of Palo Alto High School, Michael Davidson.
With the privilege of working with Davidson for three years, Selwyn has taken his talents to another level and is now one of the school’s strongest underclassmen runners, and a key part of the future of Paly cross country.
Selwyn finished third of all freshmen in the first Santa Clara Valley Athletic League meet with a time of 17:41 on the 2.95 mile course and finished third of all freshmen in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League championship meet with a time of 18:17 on the same 2.95 mile course.
The Peninsula Flyers club and Davidson have helped him achieve fantastic times and he has run some of his best races since he has joined the team.
“One of my best races was recently at the end of the last track season when I ran a 4:33 on my last race of 1500 meters which equals around a 4:52 mile,” Selwyn said.
The freshmen phenom has made an immediate impact on the cross country team and has impressed coaches and team members immensely.
Junior runner Brian Ho is excited about the addition of Selwyn and says he will make a great impact on the team this season.
“Alex Selwyn is a very fast runner,” Ho said. “He has the potential of making varsity this season.”
Selwyn has already made an immediate contribution to the team by placing first in the freshman race at the Gunn Alumni Meet on August 31st, 11th out of 412 competitors at the Early Bird Invitational on September 16th and finishing third of all freshmen in the first two Santa Clara Valley Athletic League meets on September 26th and October 3rd.
Selwyn has had shin splints and quadricep problems this season and has run with these injuries during some of the meets. However, he has still enjoyed competing in the races and fighting through the pain.
“This season has been going well,” Selwyn said. “I strained my right quadricep two weeks ago, but I am currently cross-training.”
Although Selwyn is widely recognized for his outstanding performances for Paly, he has his mind on bigger things.
He has been to the Junior Olympics eight separate times and has competed in cities across the country.
Although Selwyn has not had consistent success at the Junior Olympics, there have been many bright spots in his races.
“A few years ago, I placed first in the regional 800m and I won by two-hundredths of a second,” Selwyn said. “It was a great race and it was neck and neck the whole way.”
Selwyn plans on returning to the Junior Olympics and looks to qualify if he has enough time.
“Going to the Junior Olympics depends on when my cross country season ends this year,” Selwyn said. “If the timing works out I will go to the qualifiers and try to qualify.”
Selwyn trains prior to each event rigorously and he does workouts based on what events he plans to run.
“Depending on the event, I will do interval workouts of different lengths,” Selwyn said. “For the 800m, I will either do a speed workout such as a 12x200m or I will do an endurance workout like 8x400m.”
In the future, Selwyn hopes to attend the Olympics one day and compete for his country against the best runners in the world.
“My dream is going to the Olympics,” Selwyn said. “Running against the top athletes from all over the world in the largest sporting event and representing the US is my dream.”
Running has played a huge part in how Selwyn has developed, and it has helped him to push his body to the limit.
“Running has really shaped who I am today,” Selwyn said. “I have developed a strong work ethic from it because I know that all of my hard work will pay off.”
For now, Selwyn plans on recovering from his injury as soon as possible and hopes to make a positive impact on the Paly cross country team next season.