Sleeping Giant’s Durgan celebrates breaking father’s school record

Neil Patrick Healy
Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Photo courtesy of Susan Atkinson

Shad Durgan, left, hugs his son, Andrew, after he breaks Shad’s record in the mile during a meet Thursday at Park High School.

Sleeping Giant Middle School seventh-grader Andrew Durgan had his eye set on breaking his school’s record in the mile because of the one who held it — his father.

In 1986, Shad Durgan ran a 5- minute, 13-second mile during a meet while he was in seventh grade at Sleeping Giant Middle School. Shad wasn’t even aware he held the record until he moved back to Livingston and one of his sons brought back a list of school record holders and his name was listed. From then on, Andrew knew he wanted to break it.

“I’ve know for a really long time (about the record),” Andrew said. “I went to bed one day and he came in and told me a story about when he was in seventh grade and he ran a 5:13, and ever since then, I wanted to break it.”

Andrew had his eye on the record for over a year, with his times steadily creeping toward that 5:13 mark. It became apparent that Shad’s record was in danger during the fall when Andrew was running cross country. That feeling carried over during the track season when he was clocking in closer and closer to that mark.

“His times were kind of close to it,” Shad said. “He ran a 5:22 or 5:23 I guess, and we thought, ‘If he runs a really good race, he could run a 5:13,’ but we knew 5:13 would be really hard to run. A lot of high-schoolers aren’t running that fast.”

It wasn’t until Sleeping Giant hosted a meet at Park High School Thursday that Andrew was running a race that, for those who knew his goal, could be the one that breaks the record. Andrew said he felt like he could get it while he was running the first lap, but his dad wasn’t sure until later.

“I think after the third lap he looked really good,” Shad said. “His form was holding together real well and he looked smooth after his third lap … and I thought, ‘He’s going to do it, he’s going to do it.’ I wasn’t sure until he crossed the finish line, but after the third lap, I thought he had a real good shot at it.”

Andrew crossed the finish line with a time of 5:09, four seconds better than his father’s mark. With Andrew being physically exhausted and overcome with emotion, his coaches helped him walk across the track while other athletes and coaches showered him with praise and congratulations.

Shad was working the finish line, reading out the times to all the runners as they crossed, so he had to hold in his excitement until he was relieved of his duties to celebrate.

“His coach said to me, ‘Shad, you can stop being a judge for a minute and be a dad,’” he said. “So I stopped and I hugged him. I knew I’d be happy, but I didn’t know I’d be fighting back tears like that, so it was pretty emotional to get to be part of a story like that.”

Andrew’s record-setting meet didn’t stop there. He also set a school record of 2:13 in the half mile, this time overthrowing someone else instead of his father.

With the story over and his goal finally accomplished, Andrew had time to appreciate what he achieved and set his eyes on new records.

“Every morning when I got up, I thought about the record this year,” Andrew said. “Every night when I got to bed, I thought about the record. Every day in practice I thought about it. Now it’s like I’m done with it. I got it.”

Shad also experienced some finality. He knew the record would be broken, as all records are, so he enjoyed that his son was the one who knocked him aside.

“I’m old enough to know that I’m never going to beat him again,” Shad said. “I know somebody’s going to break those records, I want it to be him.”