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Friday, June 21, 2024
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Records set at PL meet

Senior Matt Seymour won both the men's 3,000- and 5,000-meter runs at the Patriot League Indoor Track and Field Championships at Bucknell last weekend, and was named the male athlete of the meet.

Also, sophomore Keira Carlstrom set a school and personal record while winning the women's 3,000 meters. She helped pace freshman teammate Kelley Taylor to a win in the mile while finishing second, and ran on AU's second-place 4x800-meter relay team.

During the next three weeks both will be preparing to compete in the NCAA indoor championships in Fayetteville, Ark.

Well ... not quite.

For AU Track, indoor meets and even indoor championships aren't of vital importance. Head coach Matt Centrowitz will be the first to tell you that.

"Our priorities right now are the Penn Relays [in April]," he said. "The Patriot League outdoor [championship] is more important."

He also said several runners have aspirations to qualify for NCAA outdoor nationals, as former Eagles Sean O'Brien and Samia Akbar did last spring.

Without an indoor facility to train in, and with a grueling cross-country season in the not-too-distant past, AU's winter becomes more about fine tuning and less about competition in the upcoming indoor events, he said.

So instead, Carlstrom, Seymour and the rest of the Eagles will train lightly for the rest of this week, and step up training intensity in the first couple weeks of March. Meanwhile, they'll abstain from competition until late March, hoping to hit full stride in April.

That Centrowitz has designed this regiment so his runners peak in late April or early May might make Seymour and Carlstrom's performances last weekend more impressive.

"I am nowhere near my peak," said Seymour, who won the 5,000 meters in 14:34.25, and the 3,000 meters in 8:22.14. "After cross-country, we just did some relaxed running. A couple of us increased our mileage, but it wasn't as intense."

Yet Seymour won his races despite admittedly being the underdog on paper and having to beat the favorite, Bucknell's Greg Costello, on his home track. Furthermore, Centrowitz said meet officials hadn't determined whether anyone else had ever won both the men's 3,000 and 5,000 meters in the PL championship before.

Meanwhile, Carlstrom, in just her sophomore season, broke the 3000-meter record by .04 seconds, finishing in 9:43.46. Akbar set the previous record in January 2003, her senior season.

"Honestly, up to a couple minutes ago, I didn't even realize I broke it," Carlstrom said in an e-mail. "I went in with the mentality to break a record ... my own. Samia is a huge role model of mine. To be considered on the same level as Samia is a great accomplishment."

With Taylor winning the mile in 4:57.51 and sophomore Zaia Wharton winning the 1,000 meters in 2:56.91, the AU women, who like the men focus on mostly distance running, appeared dominant in those PL races, whether or not they had reached peak race fitness. The men, with several second place performances last weekend, most notably junior Sean Duffy in the 1,000 meters and sophomore Phil Gaeta in the mile, probably are not there yet.

But on Centrowitz's map, both teams are in the right place. Both Gaeta and Duffy lost to runners from Navy, which, in Centrowitz's words, "sent their B squad" to the 2003 PL indoor championships, resulting in more AU wins. That, alongside a patient training regiment and obstacles like January's frequently icy track, caused the coach to be fairly optimistic about his men. And so far, the women's team has given him little reason to worry.

"They're right on my schedule right now," Centrowitz said. "We look forward to Spring Break, where we can go to a warmer climate." April, he said, would be the time to truly judge his plan's success.

Perhaps most importantly, Centrowitz's runners are buying into his strategy.

"Right now, I feel like I am in the best shape of my life," Carlstrom said in an e-mail. "But I know that there is great improvement in the future. We are going to train ... to allow us to have a bigger peak in outdoors. We won't feel worn out or tired by the end of outdoors, when you need to be your best."

Seymour is focused on a more intense training session.

"Other teams are racing every week," Seymour said. "I honestly don't know why. It was pretty obvious last year, especially coming to outdoor track. We were winning everything. You figure people would pick up on [our training methods]. But it's almost like they're keying on winning the conference, while lots of us are looking at nationals"

As the semester comes to an end and one of the founding members leaves American University, Section 202 has decided to take a trip down memory lane. For our fans, old and new, who are wondering how Section 202 came to be, this episode is a must. Listen along as hosts Connor Sturniolo and Liah Argiropoulos reminisce about the beginning of Section 202 and how it got to where it is now.

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