Bears race in New York as national two-mile record set

Sports Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 16, 2011

As the Bears closed the book on their regular season at last Saturday’s New York Road Runners Night at the Armory meet, the record books were reopened — the Bears watched Bernard Lagat, professional distance champion, set a new American record in the indoor two-mile run. Although Brown did not bring home any records, the women claimed third place and the men finished seventh.

Lagat’s impressive performance came during a special two-mile race at the meet, which also included high-school star Lukas Verzbicas, who was chasing the high-school two-mile record. Lagat broke the record, which had stood for 21 years, by five seconds as he clocked eight minutes, 10.07 seconds.

“The pace started, you know, really nice and comfortable at the beginning,” Lagat said. “So that’s why I was able to do a 4:02 (mile) towards the end of the race.”

Lagat was assisted in his efforts by pacing rabbits — two runners who helped him stay on his record-setting pace for portions of the race — but for the final laps of the race, Lagat was alone in his efforts. To put the accomplishment in perspective, both of Lagat’s miles were faster than Brown’s top one-mile finisher, Dan Lowry ’12, who ran 4:09.26.

“This time around, it was different, you know, it was a special set of a race,” Lagat said. “And I knew that in order for me to get this record I had to be strong towards the end by myself.”

Though he ran alone during the last laps of the race, the enthusiastic crowd of college runners cheered Lagat on.

“The crowd was going crazy while he was running and after,” Lowry said. “We actually got a picture with him right after he did it.”

Even when he was unsure if the crowd was cheering for him because he was behind or ahead of record time, Lagat acknowledged that the crowd helped push him.

“Even towards the end there with five laps to go, they started banging on the sideboards,” Lagat said. “I was happy that I was able to be with them and run and get their support.”

“The crowd was awesome,” Verzbicas wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. “The race was a good experience.”

Verzbicas missed setting the high-school record Saturday evening by three seconds, as he ran 8:43.24.

“Before the race, I felt great,” he wrote. “After though, I felt very bad for some reason. I must have had some sort of an allergic reaction to the dust of the armory because I couldn’t stop sneezing for the next few days.”

Although he did not break the record in this try, Verzbicas will compete in the 5,000-meter and two-mile at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in March.

“When he came a little short of it, that’s the nature of it,” Lagat said. “I’ve tried to go into a race hoping to run a certain time, but I come short. But that doesn’t diminish my ambition, so I keep going and keep going and I told him the same thing as well.”

Before and after the two-mile event, the Bears had several impressive performances of their own. The women accrued 84.50 points throughout the meet, and Brynn Smith ’11 won an individual title in the weight throw.

“We had really good performances,” said Head Coach Michelle Eisenreich.

Gabriela Baiter’s ‘11.5 performance was another highlight of the meet for Brown, as she jumped 12.9 meters to capture second place in the triple jump. In addition, Colby Lubman ’14 earned fifth in the 400-meter dash with a time of 56.99 seconds.

The women’s distance team also contributed to the third place finish with the 4×800-meter relay, earning second place overall. First-year runners Margaret Connelly ’14 and Heidi Caldwell ’14 claimed seventh and 11th place finishes in the 3000-meter run, which they ran to hit certain, controlled times according to Eisenreich.

Though the men left the Armory with only 57 points overall, they did come away with two titles. Daniel Smith ’13 captured the shot-put title with a heave of 16.88m and John Spooney ’14 won the 200-meter dash in 21.94.

The men also had some strong finishes in the longer events. Kevin Cooper ’13 came in second in the 1000-meter run. Lowry and Anthony Schurz ’12 placed well in the one-mile run, finishing sixth and ninth, respectively.

“It was a (personal record) for me, so I’m pretty happy about that,” Lowry said. “It could have gone a little bit better, but two weeks out from (the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships), it’s a good sign of improvement.”

The next challenge facing Bruno will be the USA Track and Field New England Championships at Harvard Feb. 20.

“Not everyone is competing at the USATF meet,” Lowry said. “A lot of us aren’t competing if we are racing at Heps. We have a break week and then get some more speed work in.”

The Ivy League Heptagonal Championships, hosted by Columbia, will be held Feb. 26 and 27.


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