Senior runner Emily Richards set a personal record — and consequently, a school record — in the indoor 800-meter dash today at the Camel City Elite Races in Winston-Salem, NC.
Richards expressed disappointment in today’s results, however, as she finished sixth overall with a time of 2:07.46. The five-time national champion came into Saturday’s race with the best PR time of the five collegiate runners participating, but she finished third among them in the race.
“I came into today’s meet with some big goals. I didn’t quite get there, but I started my season with an indoor PR and now know what to work on moving ahead,” Richards said. “I’m looking forward to getting back to my training and putting together a race that better conveys my abilities because I don’t think that today’s race showed that.”
Richards recorded the third-fastest indoor 800-meter time in Div. III history today, which is less than two seconds off of the all-time record.
“Emily had an OK race,” head coach Jason Maus told ONUsports.com. “She didn’t look like she got out really well. This was certainly a very good debut for her in the 800 this season. Setting a school record and running the third fastest time in Division III history is no small feat. This was a really good test for her and a good start to the season.”
Meanwhile, senior runner Matt Molinaro, who came into today with the fastest PR time of the three collegiate runners in the men’s 800-meter race, was the first collegiate runner to cross the finish line.
Molinaro finished third overall with a time of 1:51.71. The time was less than a second slower than his indoor personal record time of 1:51.03, which he set last February. He finished behind two professional runners today — Drew Piazza of VT Elite (who placed second) and Eliud Rutto of the U.S. Army (who placed first) — and was just over half of a second behind the lead runner.
“The race went well tactically, I got third and was able to compete well with the pros,” Molinaro said. “Time-wise, we were slow, but I didn’t feel fatigued or strained at all during the race. I felt like I could’ve won if I decided to make a move earlier, I had a lot left in the tank. All in all, it was a good season opener for the 800, and I’m excited to drop a lot of time in my next few races.”
Maus agreed that today represented a solid start for Molinaro’s senior campaign.
“Matt had a pretty good race,” Maus told ONUsports.com. “He got good position early on and ran a tactical race. It was a pretty slow race and Matt got stuck there towards the end and wasn’t really able to get out. Overall, this was a great opener for him this season and he has a lot to be proud of.”
Both Molinaro and Richards said last week that today’s meet would be one of the most competitive that they would run in this year, and that it was likely the most competitive indoor race that the duo had ever raced in. The women’s race featured four professional runners alongside five collegiate runners, while four professional runners raced alongside three collegiate runners in the men’s race.
The two also noted the quick turnaround from cross country season to today, the first indoor meet of the season for both runners. Both Molinaro and Richards finished their cross country seasons on Nov. 18, just two and a half months ago, at the NCAA Div. III Cross Country Championships.
“It’s actually a little hard. Going from running 8ks to 800s is a huge change. I mean, you have to be way faster,” Molinaro said. “So, we’ve been training differently from the rest of the team a little bit. We’ve been doing different workouts, a little more speed stuff, because we have to get the fast twitch muscles going.”
While neither Richards nor Molinaro reached the qualifying marks for the U.S. Track & Field Indoor Championships today, as Richards fell four seconds short and Molinaro was less than two seconds away, the two said last week that regardless of the outcome, today’s meet will be vital to their improvement as runners.
Instead of their traditional dominance at the Div. III level — Richards won the outdoor 800-meter national championship last year by nearly five seconds and Molinaro placed second and third in the indoor and outdoor 800-meter national championships, respectively, last year — Northern’s duo was tested amongst an elite crowd today. By being removed from their comfort zone, they said, today will allow them to better define their weaknesses and make the adjustments needed to improve their times.
“It’s great to get into [these] kind of races, because sometimes at our level, it’s hard to find races where we have people to run with,” Richards said. “So, getting to races like that helps us be competitive and race in some of the bigger races down the road.”
Molinaro said that, as of today, he does not know where he and Richards will race next week.