On the heels of a strong month of January, the Ocean State AC men have shown no sign of slowdown, keeping their momentum into the first few weeks of February, which have been incredibly busy across the board.
The top highlights of the month came from Julian, who started the month against a world-class field with a sub 7:50 3k clocking in at the Millrose games in New York. Despite a bit of disappointment finishing towards the back of the field, Julian ran the second fastest 3k of his career, closing quickly and gaining valuable experience against top competition in preparation for contesting the 3k at IAAF World Indoor Championships at the beginning of March.
BU Valentine Invitational
A week later in Boston on February 10, three Ocean State Athletes were active at two different venues in Boston. First, Julian contested the mile close to home at the BU Valentine Invitational, where he turned out another exceptional performance. In a field where more than five men went under 4:00 for the mile, Julian sat in third or fourth place for most of the race and unleashed his deadly kick over the last lap to beat all men but the NOP man who can only be called his top rival this season, Craig Engels. But this time, Julian smashed his old personal best in the mile, coming through in a blazing mark of 3:55.
Also at BU, Kevin Cooper contested the mile in the fourth section of the event. Despite feeling a bit off at the line, Cooper competed strong to finish in 4:09, his first sub-4:10 clocking since working full-time. The strong finish despite feeling a bit flat the day of the race has him excited, and has the club optimistic that on a better day, he could soon demonstrate, or even surpass, the form of his collegiate and early post-college marks while maintaining a full time work schedule.
And finally, on the same day as the strong performances from Julian and Kevin, Ocean State was absolutely delighted to receive a guest appearance in Boston from Providence College Graduate Harvey Dixon, the Gibraltar national record holder in the 1500m, who put on the Ocean State AC kit to compete in the 800m. And he did the jersey proud, finishing in a mark of 1:52 as he gears up for World Indoors. The club looks forward to further cameos from Harvey as he makes American tours in the future.
NB Indoor Grand Prix
At the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury, Jordan was active, once again as a pacer for the 3k. Except this time, arguably the greatest NCAA runner of all-time, Edward Cheserek as well as Olympic Medalists Dejen Gebremeskel and Hagos Gebrhiwet headlined an unbelievable field, asking for a split of 4:03 at 1600m. Even as the pacer, Jordan drew some attention from the announcers for hitting his splits perfectly even as the leaders sagged off towards the end, with Cheserek winning the race with a time of 7:38. Still, he was thrilled just to have the privilege to participate in such an Olympic caliber race.
Armagh Road Race
And he didn’t sit still for long! On Tuesday, February, 13th, Jordan and Hugh took to the skies and flew to Ireland to compete in the Armagh Road Race on February 15th. Hugh would represent Ireland as well as Ocean State AC in his first time contesting the race, which would also be his season debut after a long cross country season that extended into January. The men were off the line with blazing speed, as 2:09 marathon man Dewi Griffiths led them through the first thousand meters in a reported split of 2:40. The pace continued through the third lap before it dipped in the fourth, and a previously strung-out field began to clump towards the front. With one lap around the square (about 1000m) to go, the Belgian Yannik Michels made a move that only Jordan covered, and with 400m to go, Jordan found himself with a few meters lead on the field. However, he started his sprint too early and couldn’t bring the race home, getting passed by sub 13:40 man Sam Stabler and previous Armagh Road Race Champion Charlie Hulson for a third place finish in a road Personal Best of 14:01. Likely not quite sharp enough so early in his season to handle the early pace, Armstrong finished the race in 14:28, which, while this was a road PB, he was a bit disappointed in some of the athletes who had beaten him. Still, so early in his season and with so much pace from the beginning of the race, Hugh promises to have strong performances come his track debuts with both this race and a few more workouts in his legs.
Julian Oakley: World Championships, 3k, March 2-4, 2018
Kevin Cooper: BU Last Chance, Mile, February 25, 2018
Hugh Armstrong: BU Last Chance, 5k
Jordan Mann: BU Last Chance, Mile