Justin A. Rice for the Boston Globe
Warming up with Boston Public School track athletes at the Reggie Lewis Center on Wednesday afternoon, Bill Rodgers was thrilled to hear some of them talk about one of his old high school haunts: White Stadium in Franklin Park.
“I ran there when I was in high school myself,” the four-time Boston Marathon champion said. “So there’s kind of a connection in this sport which I think is very powerful. Sports bring people together, especially this sport, not just marathoning but track.”
Rodgers was one of several current and former Boston Marathon elite runners to train with more than 150 track athletes from Boston schools Wednesday afternoon during the second annual Scholars and Stars-World Class Athletes Inspiring Teen Achievers.
Defending Boston Marathon champions Geoffrey Mutai and Caroline Kilel were also on hand despite the fact that they just landed in Boston earlier in the afternoon.
Mutai said the students are at a crucial developmental age.
“I’m happy to be in this, it makes me remember my past when I was in school, so to give them ideas [is nice],” Mutai said. “When you sacrifice [at] this age for sure it will make you a success in your career."
But Mutai also said he was stubborn at that age.
“I remember at that time when someone wants to teach you, you think he’s lying to you, but after that now I know [better],” he said.
Students participated in four interactive stations with the elite athletes.
Rodgers instructed the students in “dynamic drills,” while a core training workout was conducted by Greg Meyer, the last American men’s winner at Boston.
Mutai and Kilel instructed the students on proper running form, and Desiree Davila, who will run the marathon for Team USA at the London Olympics this summer, led a plyometrics workout.
Davila, who was second in last year’s Boston Marathon women’s race after running the fastest American women’s time ever, did not start running the marathon until after college.
“They are showing me it’s never too late to reach your full potential,” New Mission sophomore Troy Lilly said. “A bunch of people on my team have been running since middle school and I feel like they look down upon me but I heard a story from [Davila] that she started after college. So I feel like I can do a lot more to improve myself.”
The event was cosponsored by John Hancock Financial and the Boston Scholar Athletes Program.
“It’s a lot of extra little things they are learning today, running is obviously part of it but there’s a lot of extra little things that go into it and that’s kind of a parallel for life in general,” Davila said.
“You gotta do all the extra work and find out ways to make yourself better at whatever it is you are trying to get after. So hopefully they realize that. Sometimes it’s not just the main thing, it’s not just going to school and showing up. It’s studying, it’s going home and reading and things like that.”
O’Bryant junior Melissa Jean said meeting the elite athletes, “feels like you are in a dream, you get to meet great people who work hard to get where they are."
Jean also will compete in the Boston Athletic Association’s Invitational Mile on Sunday for high school students, which concludes at the Boston Marathon’s Boylston Street finish line.
“I’m just hoping I can give it my best shot and have fun,” she said.
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