By now, Erik van Ingen is a household name in the Binghamton University community, and his accomplishments on the track have brought BU national attention.
Van Ingen earned his third All-America nod this year after competing at the national championship in Boise, Idaho. But his reaction isn’t exactly what you’d expect.
“It’s definitely a great thing, but I’ve done that twice before. It’s expected of me,” he said. “When I talk about it, I know it comes off as whiny and bitchy. But when you’ve done something before the luster just isn’t there.”
Van Ingen placed seventh in the mile at the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in March. Competing in the finals earned him his third All-America honor, but the disappointment still lingers.
“If I finished top three, I could have walked away with that,” he said. “I crossed the line and looked up at the scoreboard and remember just standing there and shaking my head. I was so frustrated. But I could tell without looking that it wasn’t a good race. It’s like in baseball when you hit the sweet spot. Well I didn’t hit mine and didn’t feel that rush and exhilaration.”
“There’s a linear progression. Qualifying for the NCAA championships, qualifying for the final, getting All-America, the next logical step after being crowned an All-American is to win a national title. But the difference between the two is so huge.”
Van Ingen never did win a national title. He posted a fifth-place finish (3.56.37) in the Wanamaker Mile at the Millrose Games in February, edging out Tulsa University’s Chris O’Hare — the eventual national champion — by .26 seconds. But with his collegiate career now coming to a close, the opportunity has passed and now eyes are on the future.
“The further along you get in something the more difficult it becomes to improve at it. That’s kind of where I’m at,” he said. “But I plan on running for maybe 10 more years, as long as my body will continue to produce the results that I’d like.”
Van Ingen’s path to becoming a professional begins in Eugene, Ore. next month. After recording a winning time of 3:38.06 in the 1,500 at the Virginia Classic last Friday, van Ingen will compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials at the end of June.