Binghamton University’s men’s track and field team senior Erik van Ingen made history yet again on Saturday as he ran a 3:57.11 mile, the fastest ever by a Bearcat.
On Saturday at Boston University’s Valentine’s Meet, van Ingen won the event, and according to coach Annette Acuff, ran the last 200 meters without any serious competition. He ran the fourth-fastest time in the nation this season, with the other three times also being set on the same day. If you count another time that was adjusted for altitude, van Ingen’s time is currently ranked fifth in the nation. Van Ingen’s finish met the automatic qualifying standard of 3:59.00 for the NCAA Indoor Championships, an event at which he placed ninth overall last March. He called the experience unlike any other.
“I think when an individual has a phenomenal race they cross the line, and they can be unaware of place or time and they just know,” he said. “It’s like, reaching the pinnacle of any sport, when you hit that climax you just absolutely know you did it, you did everything right. That’s the type of race I had on Saturday and that’s the type of race I want to replicate at the NCAAs.”
In Saturday’s highly competitive event, van Ingen was one of five runners to finish under the NCAA-qualifying time. Before this weekend, only three other runners ran sub 3:59.00 this season. Van Ingen will have an opportunity at the NCAA Championship to earn All-America honors for the first time in his career, despite coming close several times. In the fall cross country season, he fell just three spots shy of becoming an All-American at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. Finally becoming an All-American is one of van Ingen’s dreams for finishing off his career.
“It would be awesome,” he said of earning the honors. “I would be happy, but it would be kind of like, ‘God damn, finally.’ Just being on the cusp so many times, it gets pretty frustrating. For that to happen, I’d be really happy. Going into the meet, winning is not out of the question, but at the same time being just an All-American I don’t think would be good enough. So I think somewhere in between, I don’t know exactly where, would make me really happy after the race.”
2010 All-American Riley Masters of the University of Maine crossed the finish line second with a time of 3:58.17. Coming in third was Rich Peters of Boston University (3:58.26), followed by Julian Matthews of Providence College (3:58.57) in fourth and Macklin Chafee of Raggid Mountain Racing (3:58.80) in fifth.
After remaining in the middle of the pack for nearly the entire race, van Ingen turned it on in the final lap and never looked back. He finished strong and cruised to the first-place finish. With the time, van Ingen broke his own school-record of 3:59.41 that he set last January at the Penn State Open. Acuff felt that his performance was nothing unexpected.
“Erik’s performance was certainly very exciting,” she said. “To be honest, I wasn’t totally shocked. It was very exciting to be able to see him run to his full potential, his fitness level. I knew that he could run 3:57, I knew that was very realistic for him. It wasn’t going to surprise me.”
The rest of the Binghamton University track and field team held a dual meet against Syracuse on Friday night in the Events Center. Although there was no scoring, juniors Chris Veney and Abigail Oakes each took first place in two events. Veney jumped his way to victory in the long jump with a distance of 22 feet (10.00 meters), as well as the triple jump with a distance of 43 feet (7.75 meters).
In the women’s meet, Oakes took the top spot in the shot put with a distance of 35 feet (5.75 meters). She also broke the weight throw school record of 49 feet (4.50 meters) set by Marissa Yelverton in 2002 with a distance of 49-10.50. Eight men and seven women posted individual wins during Friday night’s meet.
The 2011 NCAA Division I Indoor Championships is set to be hosted at the University of Arkansas on March 11 and 12. It will be the fourth time in van Ingen’s career that he will be running in a national meet. He currently has three career conference titles and is the defending indoor champion for the mile.
The Bearcats are set to travel to Boston University for the America East Championships this weekend. The meet is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start on Friday, with action set to continue at 10 a.m. Saturday.