After countless accolades, championships and awards, Erik van Ingen’s illustrious career at Binghamton University is over.
The distance runner traveled to Des Moines, Iowa earlier this month to run in the 1,500 at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships at Drake University. Wearing the Binghamton green and white for the last time, van Ingen placed eighth in the finals with a time of 3:45.00, defeating three former national champions in the process.
Andrew Bayer of Indiana University took first place in the race with a time of 3:43.82, and Miles Batty of Brigham Young University placed second with a 3:43.83 finish.
“It still hasn’t completely set in yet,” said van Ingen, regarding his last race as a college runner. “Binghamton has provided me with a great environment to grow and learn, not only as an athlete but as a person. The support and guidance I’ve gotten is something that’ll always stick with me.”
Finishing inside the top eight, van Ingen earned first-team All-America honors for the fourth time in his career, a feat no other Binghamton athlete has accomplished during the program’s 11-year Division I history. It’s the second consecutive year in which van Ingen has placed in the 1,500 at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, after his sixth-place finish last year.
With his stellar athletic career at Binghamton in the rearview mirror, van Ingen set his sites on the 1,500 at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon this past week.
“It’s the highest level that he’s had the opportunity to compete at,” assistant track and field coach Annette Acuff said. “To have an athlete make the Olympic Trials is amazing. There’s obviously only a small percentage of athletes that get that kind of opportunity, and especially being at Binghamton, a school that is so young at the Division I level, and considering we’ve had two athletes make the Olympic Trials this year, I just think it’s a great story.”
Rory Quiller, who graduated from Binghamton in 2008 and was a three-time All-American and 2008 NCAA indoor pole vault champion, was the second BU athlete vying for a spot on the U.S. roster last week at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field. Quiller tied for eighth in the finals with a height of 17-8 1/4. Only the top three finishers qualified for the U.S. Olympic team.
van Ingen placed 10th in his heat and 27th overall in the 1,500 preliminary round of the Trials, missing an advancement to the semifinal round by three places. He finished with a time of 3:43.52.
“It was a bit disappointing, but that’s sports in general,” van Ingen said after the race. “You have good days and bad days and I think today was a struggle from the gun. It was a struggle to get into good position, it was a struggle to hold position and a struggle to have a good finish. I think that was just a product of a long collegiate season. I think I did a lot this year and my legs were just tired and I kind of felt it coming on lately. I’ve been having good workouts, but I’m not surprised that I didn’t feel great today. I was hoping there’d be some magic, but unfortunately we ran out.”
Van Ingen finishes his career at Binghamton as a seven-time NCAA Championship qualifier. He’s also won seven individual America East Conference titles and anchored four first-place relay teams. No Binghamton athlete has broken the four-minute mile except van Ingen, who’s done it three times over his career.
“Erik is a kid from Marathon, New York, 30 minutes up the road, and he didn’t come to Binghamton as one of the best distance runners in the country,” Acuff said. “He came to Binghamton as a good high school athlete, a very competitive high school athlete, who just improved tremendously and made the most out of his career. I think that’s really the coolest piece of all this.”