Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Klopf's Golden Run

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Klopf's Golden Run

Article excerpt

PHILADELPHIA -- Rob Klopf joked that as a pretend new father, he's learned how to navigate a stroller through tough situations.

The River Dell senior was referring to his doll baby "twins," which he named Robert John Klopf VI and Robert John VII, that he is taking care of for a class project.

Friday at Penn Relays, Klopf showed off his new skills. He weaved his way through some early traffic and ran the first leg for the Golden Hawks' 4-x-800 meter relay team in a stellar 1 minute, 58.57 seconds to lead them to today's Championship of America final.

"That was awesome," River Dell coach Mike Urso said. "That was the key to the whole race, absolutely. For a kid like that not to be intimidated on a big stage like this is incredible. He is such a good kid."

River Dell's time of 7:55.34 was the fourth fastest of the day, placing the Golden Hawks second in their heat. They race again today at 4 p.m.

Klopf, 17, is the only senior among the Golden Hawks' quartet that includes the Daly twins, Colin and Will, and Justin Fernandez. The Dalys' exploits have been well chronicled, but Klopf's story is just as notable. In fact, he's a twin too -- his brother, Kenneth, also runs for River Dell.

"I always say the only time I ever feel in the Dalys' shadows is when I'm running behind them on a sunny day," said Klopf, who officially is Robert John Klopf III if you were wondering. "They are such good friends of mine that whenever they get attention, I feel like it's attention for me. I wouldn't be the runner I am today, both time-wise and training-wise, if I didn't have them to train with every day."

Urso said that Klopf was a "bit player" for the Golden Hawks entering high school, and both remember how his first official mile time was 5:44 as a freshman.

That time has dropped by 80 seconds as Klopf has become a hard- working, fearless runner. Whereas some runners seem to glide almost effortlessly, Klopf attacks the track, his face projecting a range of emotions with every step.

"At outdoor nationals, he ran a two-flat [in the 800], and he said, 'Coach, next year I am going to run a 1:56,' " Urso said. "And I said, 'You know what? I just don't doubt anything any more. …

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