Emily Earl/Pipe Dream Photographer Senior Mitch Abrams earned a spot on the men’s cross country team after successfully competing with the Binghamton University Running Club.

Even when senior Mitch Abrams won the individual title at the National Intercollegiate Running Club Association northeast regionals last fall, leading the Binghamton University Running Club men’s squad to its only first-place finish in history, one goal still lingered in the back of his mind: to earn a spot on BU’s Division I track team.

It was a feat he had attempted early in his freshman year, when he was told his times weren’t quite quick enough to represent BU on the DI level. Instead, he turned to Binghamton’s club team to continue his running career.

For Abrams, it was the unique atmosphere offered by the club that allowed him to continue his passion for running and consistently better his times.

“[Running Club] was a very supportive group of friends,” Abrams said. “I had people to push me and we pushed each other to be our best. It was a very positive environment for running.”

Throughout countless group runs and individualized workouts with the club, Abrams continued to improve. He and his teammates created their own workout schedules, frequently trading advice and training plans. Abrams’ objective of making the varsity team never faded; despite being turned away from the Division I team after his initial tryout, he remained in contact with cross country head coach Annette Acuff, emailing her each spring to update her on his progress.

Finally, toward the end of last semester, Abrams was offered a spot on the cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams.

“This last year he ran some much better times and he’d be running much more mileage than what he had in the past,” Acuff said. “He’d run some club cross country races and his times were pretty competitive and he’d improved quite a lot, so we decided to give him an opportunity. Certainly, I think he earned it.”

Acuff acknowledged how rare it is to add a walk-on to the team this late in his college career.

“It’s not very often that we add someone that’s already been on campus, that’s been able to train on their own and has reached a certain fitness level that we feel like could help out the team and be competitive because our roster spots are limited,” she said.

Abrams recognizes the unique opportunity that he’s been given and is committed to taking full advantage of it.

“I’m really excited to be part of a program that I’ve always wanted to be a part of and I’m thankful that coach Acuff gave me the chance,” he said. “I think of it as an opportunity and since I’m a senior, I’m really taking it all in and appreciating each moment because I know I have one year.”

Last Saturday, Abrams participated in the first race of his collegiate career, placing 27th overall at the Harry Lang Invitational, hosted by Colgate University.

“Mitch [Abrams] ran well at Colgate, so it was nice to get a chance to see him compete and see what he looked like,” Acuff said. “His workouts have looked good and he definitely trains hard. He’s doing everything he can do.”