Call him the stealth runner. Northport's Tim McGowan prefers to remain anonymous, sneaking up on opponents with soft feet and a quiet demeanor. Once he catches them, they are shocked into falling back and letting McGowan jet in front of them.
"I like to stay shy," McGowan said. "I don't like to 'make an appearance' early in the race and have people know who I am. I like to surprise people with a few laps to go and move past them pretty quickly."
However, when you're as good as McGowan, remaining unknown can be difficult. In a little more than a month, the senior won the New York State Championship in the 3,200 meters and finished second in the high school mile at the Millrose Games. He added another distinction to his season Sunday -- All-American.
McGowan finished fourth in the two-mile in 9 minutes, 0.20 seconds during the third and final day of the New Balance Nationals at the Armory in Manhattan. The time broke the Suffolk County record of 9:01.92, set by Sayville's Brian Dalpiaz in 2003, according to longislandxctf.com.
The race began with adversity. McGowan said it was one of the most difficult starts he's had because virtually the entire field was boxed together. True to his "sneak-up strategy," McGowan began slowly creeping up along the inside midway through the race. With a lap to go, McGowan found himself leading the way.
"It was probably the most scared I've ever been in a race," McGowan said. "I was leading at nationals. I never thought I'd even have a shot at top three in the state meet. I knew that if I was going to make my move, it was going to be there. If I got passed, at least I gave it my all."
With only a final straightaway to go, the top four barreled down, with only one being able to touch the tape. Charles Cooper from Canada got there first in 8:59.61.
"There were a lot of people out there who have a lot more of a kick than I do," McGowan said. "It fuels me to take it on again [during the outdoor season] and get more speed in me."
Final burst or not, McGowan is still one of the best distance runners in the county. As he stood on the awards podium, a paper All-American crown atop his head, everyone knew who he was. It wasn't a time to stay shy.