Erik van Ingen definitely has the personality to be one of the nation’s top track athletes. But he also has the résumé.
Van Ingen, a fifth-year senior, will participate in the Millrose Games tomorrow at the New York City Armory. The two-time All-American will compete in the meet’s featured event, the Wanamaker Mile.
Widely considered one of the top annual indoor track & field meets, the annual Millrose Games attract some of the world’s top runners. In total, 202 athletes have been crowned both Millrose and Olympic champions. In the Wanamaker Mile, van Ingen will be pitted against the country’s top collegiate athletes as well as several professionals.
“Right now, it’s just a very, very ideal situation and I’m super excited to be a part of it,” van Ingen said.
At a press conference last week, van Ingen told reporters that the invite wasn’t the highlight of his Binghamton career. At least for now.
“Just being a part of it isn’t enough, so I think after the race I’ll be able to more accurately answer that question,” he said.
Van Ingen will square off against five other collegiate athletes, including Brigham Young University’s Miles Batty, the defending NCAA Indoor Champion in the mile. Tulsa University’s Chris O’Hare, who finished runner-up to Batty last year, will also compete. Van Ingen also ran in the event, but posted a fifth-place finish.
“I’m going up against a defending NCAA champion and others in the field who have better, faster personal bests,” van Ingen said. “So I think for me it’s just a matter of seeing how many people I can beat and how fast I can run … It’s a race against competitors, a race against the clock and a race against myself.”
The always-confident van Ingen acknowledged that, due to the extremely high level of competition, a victory is a long shot. But he also acknowledged that, if he made it this far, anything is possible.
“It could happen, but that would have to take the race of my life,” he said. “I’ve competed against all these guys in this race and I’ve been close to them so there’s no one who’s going to run away by half a lap or anything. You go into a race, you prepare the best you can to compete — sometimes you win, sometimes you don’t. So, I’m not trying to make any claims along those lines but I think it could happen if it’s the perfect storm and the planets align.”
The Millrose Games normally take place at Madison Square Garden, but were moved to the Armory this season. But because the MSG’s track is an atypical 1/11th of a mile, the move may be beneficial.
“The Garden is notoriously slow just due to having to negotiate more tight turns, and the Armory is arguably the fastest track in the world,” van Ingen said. “It’s very world-renowned — American records set there, world records set there. There’s just as much history at the New York Armory as there is that’s involved in the Millrose Games, so I think it’s just, for running fast indoors, the Armory is one of the places to be.”
Van Ingen enters Saturday’s Millrose Games on a high note after breaking a personal record in the past month. At the Boston Terrier Invitational, he broke his own school record with a time of 7:56.21 in the 3,000, placing second in the race.
Van Ingen’s best time in the mile is 3:57.11, a mark he will look to best this weekend. The current NCAA Indoor record for the mile is 3:55.02, set in 2009 by German Fernandez of Oklahoma State University.
Originally scheduled to air on ESPN2, the event will now be available for viewing on YouTube. The Wanamaker Mile is set to begin at 9:49 p.m.