By Ryun Anderson
April 20th, 2019: the day before Easter. A day when Jake Downing paid homage to the meme gods by finishing 69th in the 1500 on 4/20. And the day when Maryland Club Running “pulled a fast one” (as the youths say) on Widener University.
On Saturday, a small squadron of Terrapins traveled to Chester, Pennsylvania for the Widener Invitational. With nationals having taken place the previous week, many runners decided to take the weekend off (although a few competed at both meets).
The day began innocently enough. Shannon Young arrived at the track first, accompanied by her parents. The weekend storms had forced Widener to postpone Friday’s races, so she was faced with the unenviable task of tackling her first-ever 10k at 9 a.m. in a steady rain. She came through the 5k at 19:45 (having only broken 20 minutes in the event two weeks earlier) and held on for a solid 40:35 finish, practically daring any girl on the club to try and break her newfound club record.
Luckily the rain let up at the end of the 10k, and as the weather began to heat up, so did the times. Despite arriving shortly before the start of the 1500 (and consequently re-defining what constitutes a proper “warm-up”), Kate Eckart ran away from the rest of her heat in a new personal-best time of 5:03.66 (moving past Luanne for the club’s #3 mark). Christina Higgins, not to be out-done, put together a nearly perfectly-paced race and tied her personal best at 5:28.46 (#9 all-time).
The boys were up next, set out to test the theory of whether 5k training does indeed make your 1500 slower or if Ryun just uses that as an excuse for his diminishing footspeed. Mitch put the former theory to rest when he left his heat in the dust during the final 600 meters, running 4:07.02 (#5 all-time) and reassuring himself that his speed did not, in fact, peak in high school. Matt “Running is an art, not a sport” Stasiukevicius put on an impressive display of consistency for the second week in a row, running three straight 68s en route to a 4:13.76 personal best. Jake Downing ran two seconds faster than his HILARIOUS (albeit fairly accurate) 4:20 seed time, although he kept the meme alive by strategically finishing 69th overall. Niko Fedkin rounded out the 1500s by brute forcing his way under the 4:30 mark for the first time, completing a perfect set of college PRs in the guys’ 1500.
The next set of season bests came in the 400, when the dynamic freshman duo of Clay Buckman and Liam Killea decided to get in on the fun. Clay continued his deliberately precise season-long plan of whittling away at his 400-meter personal best – not unlike Michaelangelo painstakingly crafting the statue of David – by obliterating the second heat and lowering his club record (again) to 49.38. Liam was not far behind, clocking a season best of 51.01, good for #4 all-time.
Kate and Christina then realized that the 800 had snuck up on them faster than your end-of-semester research paper is sneaking up on you (yes, you), but were able to make it to the starting line in plenty of time. Kate evenly split a 2:26 and Christina showcased the blazing speed that also apparently comes with increasing mileage, crossing the line in 2:38.29 (#8 all-time). Ryan Kapoor then proceeded to embarrass his entire section, at one point leading the race by well over ten meters and holding on with a shiny new PR of 1:58.22 (#6 all-time).
Ian Tumulty then took a break from his picture-taking (never mind his previous race in the 110-meter hurdles) to tackle the most heinous track event ever conceived, the 400-meter hurdles. However, inspired by the 52-second (yes, you read that right) winning time in the first heat, he clocked a solid performance of 64.25 (#5 all-time). When converting for the fact that he did this in a long-sleeve shirt, I would have given him the first-place medal, but the Widener officials apparently thought otherwise.
After Liam’s 200 (23.45, milliseconds off of his season-best), all but Briggs and Ryun departed for the great state of Maryland. The two left behind, however, had one singular mission: get Briggs under 17 minutes in the 5k. By the time Briggs’ race rolled around just before 7 p.m., the sun had gone behind the trees, creating ideal racing conditions. After back-to-back 5:17 miles, it became apparent to Ryun that Briggs was not only going to break 17, but had a chance to crack 16:30, as well. A couple well-timed moves and a serious final-lap kick and Briggs crossed the line triumphantly in 16:27. The two, spirits abuzz after the event that had transpired, eschewed a cooldown in lieu of a trip to Wal-Mart, where they bought a clipboard and a pack of Sharpies. The clipboard, suffice to say, was not long for this world.
All told, the Widener Invitational was a roaring success for Maryland Club Running (that’s a Lion pun, but I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who knows what Widener’s mascot is). It tested the pain endurance of both runners and sunburned spectators alike, most (if not all) of whom walked away with shiny new season-best times. It also clearly proved that we as a club race much better when not wearing our club uniforms, which, okay. As long as you’re not wearing Penn State gear.