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Runner with autism keeps making strides (video)

Sep 3, 2014, 9:20 AM EST

Mike Brannigan can run a mile in 4 minutes, 7 seconds. The elite high school runner has heard from more than 200 colleges. He dreams of competing in the Olympics.

“That would be pretty awesome,” Brannigan told “NBC Nightly News.” “Put that in the books of history.”

Brannigan, 17, breaks free from the pack running as a senior for Northport (N.Y.) High School on Long Island. He’s also separated by autism, which he was diagnosed with at 18 months old.

He’s been a runner just as long.

“He just stood up as a baby and started running,” his mom, Edie, told “NBC Nightly News.” “He would run into the walls. He would fall and not put his hands down and smash his head.”

But Brannigan’s path to college — he listed distance-running powerhouses Colorado and Oregon among the 200 schools — faces academic obstacles.

He has a more than adequate grade-point average of 3.3, according to Runner’s World, but he might not be able to handle taking standardized tests, according to “NBC Nightly News.”

“Mikey’s dream is to go to a Division One school and succeed there academically and run against the best college runners in the country,” his mom said. “That’s his dream. And we want to support him in that dream. But with the NCAA academic requirements, educational requirements, we don’t know if it’s possible.”

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