On Nov. 19, senior Perry Mackinnon and junior Rhys Hammond laced up their sneakers to compete at this year’s NCAA Championships. Facing off against 250 of the best runners in the country, Hammond finished in 109th place and Mackinnon in 124th place.
After securing individual bids for their performances at the Northeastern Regional Championships, the pair headed to Stillwater, Oklahoma. As two accomplished First-team All-Ivy runners, the duo held high aspirations for the big stage.
Hammond led the duo to the finish line of the 10K course, notching a time of 30:19. Six seconds later, Mackinnon followed to place a time of 30:25.6.
Throughout the course, the pair took turns passing each other, employing a pack running strategy.
“We kind of played leapfrog,” Hammond said. “We try to find each other in the race and work off of each other.”
In such a competitive race, strategies like pack running are crucial.
“The margins are really, really slim,” Mackinnon said. “The difference between a fantastic day and just a good day could be 50 slots.”
Still, as individual runners in a competition typically dominated by qualifying teams, the duo found success in their performances.
“I’m finding a lot of happiness with how I raced,” Hammond said. “I was pushing the entire time. I’m just very happy with how I hung in there and fought until the end.”
This isn’t the first time the runners have fostered impressive results.
At last year’s championship race, Mackinnon was the sole representative for the Red where he placed 173rd with a time of 30:49.6.
During this spring’s NCAA Outdoor Championships, Hammond broke the 29-year-old record for the 1,500 meters. Hammond beat the original record of 3:41.48 with a scraping time of 3:41.36.
Pushing off of the momentum from the cross country season, the pair reaches for new heights this winter.
“I always try to frame things as something to motivate me for something bigger that’s ahead,” Mackinnon said.
The Red will return to competition on Saturday, Dec. 3 for the Greg Page relays held in Barton Hall.