Junior Tomas Keršulis has been a standout this entire indoor track and field season — not just in the conference, but across the entire NCAA. A 200 meter and 400 meter specialist, Keršulis has emerged as one Cornell’s best sprinters ever, competing at the NCAA championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico this past weekend.
“Going into the race I felt pretty good. I felt pretty confident in my abilities. Leading up to that day, all the training was going well and I just felt fresh and rested,” Keršulis said.
With a time of 46.33 seconds for the 400-meter race, Keršulis’s indoor campaign ended in the preliminary round of the national championship, though he still earned second team All-American honors.
“I didn’t perform to the best of my abilities but the experience itself was pretty good…. After the race I was a little bit disappointed in my result, but I talked to my coach, and we talked about the season as a whole and discussed how much of a success the whole season was,” Keršulis said. “Now it’s just on to outdoor. I just have to look forward to the future.”
Keršulis was the sole athlete representing the Red at the NCAA championships, setting an Ivy League record of 45.78 seconds to earn himself a bid earlier in the season. Only the top-16 400-meter athletes qualified for the trip to Albuquerque, with Keršulis ranking 11th in the nation.
“There was a lot of pressure built up on [the race], because it’s such a high-level meet and everyone around you is one of the top runners in that event in the whole NCAA. You know you’re gonna have to perform really well if you want to advance to the finals,” Keršulis said.
“It was a little different without the rest of my team there, without the support and without being able to see other people on your team run.”
Beyond the national championships, Keršulis delivered for the Red at the Heptagonal Championships in February, scoring 20 points for the team with wins in the 200 and 500 meters and helping Cornell secure third place in the team championship.
“When there’s team scores involved, you feel like if you don’t win you’re going to let everyone else down — so it’s a lot of pressure to make sure you get as many points as you can,” Keršulis said.
In addition to being a top flight athlete for Cornell, Keršulis also proudly represents Lithuania on the international level, holding national records in the indoor 200, 300 and 400 meters as well as winning the 400-meter national title.
“It means a lot,” Keršulis said “A lot of people haven’t even heard of Lithuania, so being able to represent them and show other people who may not have heard of Lithuania what Lithuanians can do — it’s very important to me, to represent my whole family lineage,”.
With the world championships in Budapest rapidly approaching, Keršulis is aiming to run the world standard of 45.00 seconds this season, which would allow him to represent Lithuania at one of the biggest stages in all of athletics.
“Before this year or last year, I would’ve never thought I would’ve been able to reach something like the world championships or the Olympics,” Keršulis said. But now, progressing so much over the last two years and being so close, it’s just an amazing feeling. Being able to get that standard and represent my country would be just amazing.”.
As for further goals this coming outdoor season, Keršulis is hoping to qualify for the 400-meter NCAA championships again and compete in the final.
“So, that’d be the top eight in the country. I already got into the top 16 this year for indoors, and I think outdoors I can do even better,” Keršulis said. “I also really want to make that world championships standard for the 400. … I think 45 [seconds] flat is definitely in range.”
Lucas Corea is a Sun Contributing Writer. He can be reached at [email protected].