The former Chicago-area high school star is focusing on short-course triathlons.
Former high school running phenom Lukas Verzbicas has signed an endorsement deal with New Balance. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Although he’s focusing full-time on triathlon, he has long vowed that he’s not done with his competitive running pursuits. He is being coached, in part, by Joaquim Cruz, a former Olympic gold medalist in the 800 meters.
Verzbicas, 21, was born in Lithuania but moved to the Chicago area before he was 10. He got involved in running and triathlon before he entered high school and become a record-setting champion in both sports as a teen. Verzbicas broke Gerry Lindren’s longstanding U.S. high school national record in the 2 mile with a time of 8:29.46 in 2011. He is also the fifth American high school boy to run a sub-4:00 mile, running 3:59.71 at the end of his senior year of high school in 2011. He also won titles in several national meets including three at the 2011 New Balance Indoor Nationals as well as victories at the 2009 and 2010 Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in San Diego. He also won a duathlon junior world title while in high school and a triathlon junior world title just after entering college.
He had initially enrolled at the University of Oregon in 2011 to pursue his running career, but dropped out less than a semester in Eugene after only two collegiate meets. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Colorado Springs to train for triathlons. Initially, he was attending University of Colorado Colorado Springs as member of USAT’s Elite Triathlon Academy but has since left school to train full-time as a professional triathlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
Verzbicas raced well in his first year as a pro in 2012, but then suffered a devastating cycling accident while training in Colorado Springs. He suffered a broken collarbone, two fractured vertebra and a collapsed lung, but has since made a complete recovery. As a result doctors told Lukas he may never walk, let alone run again.
“After being told I would never walk again it is a dream come true to have the support of a powerhouse running brand like New Balance,” Verzbicas said in the press release. “After meeting with and talking to Team New Balance athletes I look forward to achieving my athletic goals with a brand that feels like an extension of my own family.”