BOSTON – Junior Liam Purdy overcame a bit more than the usual pain and exhaustion en route to his first individual Patriot League title in the 800m run. He earned the second conference title for the American University track & field team amid unexpected adversity to close the third and final day of the Patriot League Indoor Championships in Boston on Sunday, Feb. 19.
It was potentially a nightmare scenario for the junior, as a fellow-competitor cut in too close behind him with 300m left in the race, clipping the back of his right foot and knocking his shoe loose.
"Coach Centrowitz always says this great quote, 'mind leads the body,'" Purdy said. "Right away that quote popped into my head, and my first thought was just to kick the shoe off and keep going."
That quick decision kept Purdy up in the lead pack rounding into the last lap, and a powerful final 100m gave him the .09-second edge across the line, beating Boston's Ethan Homan and Army's Trevor Touchton for the win. His final time of 1:53.25 was good for a new PR and the third-fastest time in school history.
This was the second conference title for Purdy this weekend, after he anchored the AU men's 4x800m squad to a new school record (7:31.30) en route to the program's first conference win since 2009. Their finish was also good for a new NCAA-leading time, topping the rest of the country be nearly 0.50-seconds.
"It's phenomenal to have the opportunity to not only win one of the first titles we've had in a long time in indoor, but to also win it with the guys that I train with every day," Purdy said. "It's just indescribable. We went into this week with the right thinking and, besides losing the shoe, it really couldn't have played out any better."
But Purdy certainly wasn't the only highlight out of the day, with four other Eagles walking away from the final day of competition with new PR's, including one school record and one All-Time Top Ten mark.
Sophomore Brianna Belo cut nearly two seconds off of her own school record in the 500m dash, crossing in 1:12.63 to finish second in the field. This is the second record performance for Belo this season after she topped the history books in the 800m run at the Camel City Invitational two weeks ago with a 2:11.41 finish.
Fellow-sophomore Matthew Rainey closed out the history book performances for the Eagles, crossing in fourth for the 1000m with the No. 8 time in AU history, 2:27.79.
The American University track & field team had quite a start to the Patriot League Championships on Saturday, Feb. 18, closing the first full day of competition with a pair of school record performances and a conference title run from the men's 4x800m.
Sophomore Trevor Patton kicked the day off with a third-place finish in the men's long jump, besting his own school record in the event with a final mark of 7.11m (23-4). Patton entered the weekend with a previous record of 6.71m (22-0.25) from last year. He landed just under that mark twice this season, hitting 6.70m (21-11.75) at the Patriot Games (Jan. 28) and Camel City Invitational (Feb. 3) before extending his PR by over a foot with his 7.11m (23-4) finish.
Junior Alaeldin Tirba, sophomores Chandler Ross and Matthew Rainey, and junior Liam Purdy led the rest of the conference field by two seconds to become the first AU men to earn a PL indoor title since 2009 when Jeff Brannigan won the 3000m field in 8:15.80.
The AU women also put down a couple of exciting performances, starting with sophomore Grace Goulding who tied her high jump PR with a bar of 1.60m (5-3) to place tenth in the field.
Sophomore Adriana Hooks was the only individual competitor on the track for the Eagles, taking the line in her second career indoor 5000m run. She entered the weekend with the fourth-fastest time in school history after hitting 17:32.45 at the Camel City Invitational two weeks ago. She now sits at No. 2 All-Time after placing fifth in the conference field in 17:13.73.
#AUTF RESULTS – SUNDAY
500m Run, Women – 2. Brianna Belo, 1:12.63 PR SR
800m Run, Women – 12. Brianna Belo, 2:16.95
800m Run, Men – 1. Liam Purdy, 1:53.25 PR #3
1000m Run, Men – 4. Matthew Rainey, 2:27.79 PR #8
Mile Run, Women – 11. Arianna Lopez, 5:08.86 PR // 14. Kaitlyn McTernan, 5:16.11
Mile Run, Men – 13. Chander Ross, 4:28.78
3000m Run, Men – 2. Alaeldin Tirba, 8:18.79 PR
Men – Sixth, 39 points
Women – Ninth, 12 points