Senior indoor track student- athlete Tom Clark drew on his experience as he readied for the 3,000-meter race on Feb. 22 at the Marc Deneault Invitational at Cornell University. “I think being a fifth-year, I have a huge advantage,” Clark said after winning the race against some much-heralded competition. “A lot of what we do in distance running is based off of aerobic training, and I have five extra years of aerobic training under my belt.”
Even with extra training, Clark faced a loaded field. On top of competition from Geneseo teammate junior Cohen Miles-Rath were three Syracuse University freshmen, including Nick Ryan, who won three state championships in his senior year of high school and finished second in another.
“[Ryan] is a super talent. If I was a freshman, I would never have said, ‘I’m going to beat [Ryan],’” Clark said.
Given the race’s talent, Clark was expecting a faster pace, but once the gun went off, Clark found himself keeping up with the pack.
“It worked out perfectly for us because it was ever-so-slightly slow, but we were keeping them honest; we were right on their heels the whole time,” Clark said, referring to the Syracuse runners.
Around the midpoint of the race, Clark surged ahead and increased the tempo of the race while gaining a lead on the other runners. Over the last mile of the race, Clark maintained his speed and fought off a late kick by the younger runners to hold on for victory with a time of 8 minutes, 29 seconds.
Even though the time was the best of the day in the event, assistant coach Mike Woods said that, had the situation been a little bit different, Clark could have gone even faster.
“They didn’t race until right at the end,” Woods said. “They thought they would just sit and let him go and they could run him down. Well, they couldn’t run him down, but if they had raced from the get-go, [Clark] probably would have gone four or five seconds faster. He had more in the tank.”
Other notable performances from the invitational included Miles-Rath’s fifth-place finish in the 3,000-meter run and junior Keira Wood’s second place finish in the 800-meter run.
At a separate invitational at the Rochester Institute of Technology, junior Allison Hoh took second in the 60-meter hurdles, freshman John Panus was second in the 5,000-meter run and junior Phil Longo bested a stacked long jump field with a jump of 6.84 meters, a personal record.
The Knights will compete next at the SUNYAC championships on Saturday March 1 at SUNY Brockport.