A one-note story, successful on its limited terms, about 15-year-old Monty Davis' conflicts over running and winning and being his own man. Monty tells himself that he just cares about running, not winning, but his father, once a crack high school sprinter, expects him to win and gives him his secret for doing so: Hate all your competitors and let them know it. Monty never accepts that advice, but he is moved by a partly competitive surge to keep up with the team's two hotshots at a practice. After that, the coach too pressures him to take heart and win, though he never does match his time during that one ""accident."" On the other hand his sister thinks he should resist his father's pressure, and so does an incipient girlfriend, also a runner--but at the same time she encourages him to win. A sympathetic English teacher and former runner first advises him to resist and answer only to himself, then later urges him to overcome his fear of losing and test what he can do. A silly movie he sees with the girl helps put it all together: there's this dead genius' brain, see, that gives orders from a box. . . and Monty finds it urging him on as he finally psychs himself up to win the match it's all been leading up to. He does win, but Platt pulls some last-minute turnabouts to maintain the whole complex of conflicts to the end--and, throughout, he gives Monty's various encounters enough differentiation and easy give-and-take to give the whole a semblance of life.