WESTFIELD, Mass. – One final first came for the Southern Vermont College outdoor track & field team Wednesday evening as the Mountaineers wrapped up their second varsity season with the team's debut performance in an Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Championship, sophomore Marc Brandmeyer (Bennington, Vt.) claiming sixth overall in the men's 3000 meter steeplechase held at Westfield State University.
Brandmeyer was the first runner to cross the line in the event's opening heat, coming in at 9:30.68 to finish almost three whole seconds faster than the rest of his race. A strong second heat then put up its marks, five participants registering times ahead of the Mountaineer's.
"I felt pretty good going into the race," said Brandmeyer after picking up his medallion. "Obviously, everyone in the race deserves to be here-- they're all good. Overall, I don't think I did too well until the end when I had to make a bit of a comeback."
"I'm really proud of him and the way that he ran," commented Southern Vermont second-year head coach Kathleen Newton. "He went out a little hard- a little too hard- but then he really had an amazing last lap and just crushed them… nobody was near him. I was holding back the tears because I was just so happy for him."
Track & field athletes from the ECAC's 169 Division III members can participate in the outdoor championship if they meet the qualifying standards set by the Conference. For the men's 3000 meter steeplechase, that time was 9:45.00, a mark that Brandmeyer topped on April 23 at the University at Albany (9:43.39).
"We both wanted him to have another PR today," Newton continued. "He's been taking off chunks of time with each meet this year, but I think it becomes more and more difficult, obviously, to just keep on having PRs like that."
The opening heat of the discipline saw Brandmeyer break out ahead of the pack before being overtaken in the lead over the next lap.
"I think I went a little too hard in the beginning," Brandmeyer said, echoing the thoughts of his head coach.
He stayed with the pacer over the ensuing 400 meters and then pulled back into the top position over the fourth lap. The SVC sophomore would be passed by a pair of fellow competitors through the next loop, dropping down to third as the end drew near.
"I wasn't too concerned," Brandmeyer calmly noted. "I knew that- as long as I stayed close with them- I'd be able to catch back up at the end. But it was definitely something that came across my mind. I thought, 'I'm running a little bit slower,' and I knew I had to pick it up from there; it was kind of a wakeup call. I just stayed with them after that and kept [my mind] on my own race and not theirs'."
True to his word, the Mountaineer would uses the final 600 meters to seize the lead before maintaining it while sprinting through the line.
Brandmeyer's mark was just .86 seconds off the SVC program record which he set at the last meet that he competed in, the DIII New England Championship back on May 7.
"Overall, I can't imagine that anyone would want anything else out of a student-athlete and what he's given SVC," Newton said of her sophomore's stellar year between the track and cross country course. "He was totally shocked and surprised to get the very prestigious [Scott] McKenzie [SVC Sportsman of the Year] Award at the banquet, but I really feel like he deserved it in more ways than one. Not only athletically, but also because of how he carries himself, his sportsmanship, and how he represents SVC. He is nothing but a class act all the way. He wasn't able to participate last year, so he was pretty raw to collegiate track- and it's very different than in high school. He just had an amazing season. He went above and beyond what any of us expected and continued to do that. I couldn't be any prouder of his accomplishments for the entire year."
SOUTHERN VERMONT RESULTS
Men's 3000 Meter Steeplechase
Marc Brandmeyer: 6th – 9:30.68
PR = Personal Record, SR = SVC Record