High Point University’s Vertklasse Meet has become known in recent years as a place for athletes to go if Raleigh Relays, the meet NC State held last week, is full. As mentioned in last week’s article, the Raleigh meet has become incredibly competitive and increasingly difficult to enter, especially for younger athletes who do not have a seedtime to get in with. Therefore, the Vertklasse meet has become not only a place for good competition, but also for a lot of competition – the men’s 5000m race was broken up into three heats of nearly thirty runners each. The competition at High Point proved to be the perfect match for many of the members of UNCG’s men’s track team.
First up was the men’s 5k on Friday. Following two heats of strung out packs, the crowd at High Point was itching for a good race in the third and final heat. Luckily, UNCG had two entries in this last heat; freshman Alex Roy, who is still searching for his ideal college race distance, and sophomore Will Sandin, who is moving up from the 1500m distance. Alex has had quite the track season so far – following a cross country season of injury, he has found himself consistently under 4:10 over 1500m. Will Sandin is ever the anomaly – capable over almost any distance he’s put in, he has raced exceedingly well events ranging from 400m to 3000m this season. This weekend’s HPU meet marked both runners’ maiden voyage in the 5000m run on an outdoor track.
The race got off to a slow start. There was some shuffling for position before Alex eventually found himself at the front of the pack after less than two laps. He would remain at the front of the pack until a lap to go. Right on his hip was Will Sandin, who would also find himself in that very same position with a lap to go. The race was quite the sight. For ten laps, Alex sucked the wind out front without any help from his teammate Will Sandin or any of the other competitors. Running at the front is, simply put, the hardest way to run a race – one may as well run alone. Nevertheless, Alex ran a race that betrayed his status as a freshman. He clicked off laps at five minute per mile pace like clockwork with the maturity and composure that many athletes take years to develop. With Will on Alex’s shoulder, however, many UNCG track runners watching the race knew exactly what was coming.
When the bell rang to signal a lap to go, Will Sandin stormed past Alex. As an 800/1500m specialist, Will, like many mid-distance runners has a killer last lap. After letting Alex lead the race for nearly three miles, Will let off an absolute barnstormer of a bell lap – sixty-four seconds, approximately 4:15 mile pace. For the second week in a row, Will took home the win in his heat, coming in at 15:32 for the 3.1 mile distance. A runner in the chase pack just caught Alex, yet the Spartan freshman still finished strong in 15:44. Overall, the race was a positive experience for both first-time 5k runners.
Long distance action wasn’t the only fun to be had at HPU this weekend. Senior Jonathan Hodge returned to the track on Saturday to race the 800m after struggling with nagging injuries for a period of time. The senior kinesiology major originally from Kannapolis has a personal best of 1:54. He didn’t break that barrier this weekend, however his 1:58 marked a stellar return to form for the 6’4” mid-distance specialist. Visibly content with his performance, the senior will look for chances to break his 1:54 best time in the few weeks that remain of the season.
This upcoming weekend will see the Spartans travel to Lynchburg, Virginia to compete at Liberty University’s College Invitational.