BYU men’s track and field senior Talem Franco reached a career milestone before the COVID-19 outbreak, running a sub-four mile at the 2020 University of Washington Invitational.

Franco is the newest Cougar to run the mile race in less than four minutes. He ran it with a time of 3:58:09, his personal best. The sub-four mile is considered to be a major milestone in a runner’s career and is something that Franco had been working towards for a long time.

Franco started his running career in sixth grade when his dad suggested he run track to help him stay in shape for football.

“My dad, who ran track in high school, thought it would be a good idea for me to run to stay in shape and he made me run the 800 meter.” Franco said. “I had a knack for it, and every year I progressively got faster to the point that I was doing really well nationally.”

Throughout high school, Franco played football and ran track, but with the encouragement of his father, Franco eventually decided to focus his energy on his running and work towards becoming a collegiate runner. After serving a two-year, full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Franco returned to running at BYU.

“He (Franco’s father) is an incredible influence on me. He is always texting me about practice and workouts and where I am competing,” Franco said. “He has been a very pivotal influence in my life and my track career.”

Franco started running for BYU on scholarship and his motivation for signing with BYU is due to both the strength of the distance running program and familial ties.

During his junior year of high school, Franco’s older brother passed away. He was being recruited by BYU football at the time, and it was because of their shared dream of becoming collegiate athletes for BYU that Franco decided to make the journey to Provo.

“When he passed away, that held my resolve that I still have that opportunity and choice,” said Franco. “So when I got the call from Coach Eyestone, I knew I was taking it.”

Franco knew that the sub-four was something that he was capable of and felt that his progression was going towards that milestone. Coming into his senior season, Franco was confident that he could make his goal happen because of the shape he was in and the races he was running.

“Coming into the race in Washington, I knew I was in sub-four shape,” Franco said. “It was more of how far I can get underneath the mark. It wasn’t really a shock, I already confidently believed that I could do it.”

Before college sports were canceled because of COVID-19, Franco had dreams of being a national champion and qualified to compete in indoor nationals that were supposed to be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Franco also had hoped to run an Olympic trial qualifying time during his senior outdoor season. He still hopes to fulfill his dream of running professionally.

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