A lot has changed since I graduated from Bryant College in 2001; it’s now a University, they made the jump from DII to DI, my old parking lot now contains an amazing library and an athletic facility, and rumor is they now accept kidneys as a form of payment (discount if you supply your own bath tub full of ice!). Even the uniforms are much better. For my first couple of races as a freshman, I was stuck wearing this singlet that must’ve been worn by an obese thrower in the 70′s. I may have been the only runner in the NE-10 flashing nip during races, with one strap falling off the shoulder. Glad to see nobody else has to suffer through that.
Coach Steph Reilly not only is winning local races (back-to-back USATF-NE 5k road champion) and competing internationally for Ireland (steeple), but she’s also leading the charge as the Bulldog program continually improves. There are only a few names of my own old teammates left on the school record list, which means that a.) I’m really getting old and b.) the team is steadily getting better and better. I reached out to Coach Steph to get her thoughts on the last couple of weeks:
Both teams are primed and ready for the conference meet next week May 5-6. Looking at all of them individually they have been progressing and performing better with each competition. This is exactly what we like to see in the last few weeks of the season. A tremendous amount of volume and training has been done since the indoor season and it certainly has shown all around in their competition effort. I am very excited, as are my two assistant coaches Mike Simeone and Neal White, to see how the season comes to an end at the conference meet next week. I am proud to work with such a great group that can work hard and compete hard.
Senior Ryan Busby has been on a roll on the track lately. I was seeing the updates Ryan was posting on a team/alumni Facebook page and reached out to him for his take on his quest for the 1500 meter school record:
Stonehill was a solid meet for the team overall with many hitting season bests, and even some PR’s. The 1500 which was the first event we had people entered in, and before the race Blake (one of the freshmen on our team) told me that his friend who runs for Stonehill had told him there was going to be a pacer. Minutes before the race I was talking with Sean Hanlon (one of Stonehill’s top 1500 guys) and he confirmed that the pacer from Tufts would be aiming for 2:05 at 800 meters. I talked to Coach Steph and she just told me to sit off the pacer and don’t go too crazy in the first 400 meters. The pacer did a good job…2:06 to my 2:07 at the half. I sat behind two guys from Stonehill until 300 to go and at that point I just got that feeling that I had more in the tank than they did so I took off. I powered home to the W by finishing the last 400 in about 61 seconds. I saw the clock said 3:57 when I crossed, but I didn’t know the official time (I knew I was close to the record). It took the meet officials literally two agonizing hours to post the results before I found out that I had just missed the record by less than two tenths of a second. There was one point on the final turn that I got hit by a big gust of wind and it broke my stride a little. If not for that I might have had the record. Winning made not getting the record a little easier to handle. I ran the 4×800 later and split 1:58.xx, which equals my PR. However my highlight from a spectator standpoint was watching all four of our 5k guys break 16 minutes (and all four guys PR’d). Sophomore Chris Chapruet hung on to run 15:45 off of a fast early pace in the faster section of two. In the second section Senior Kenny Rayner and Freshmen Blake Fenwick had an epic back and forth battle over the last mile to see who could take the win. After trading the lead at least three times it came down to the last 100 meters and Fenwick had another gear. It was Fenwick(15:34) and Rayner(15:36) up front, and Sophomore Jeff Dorosh also had a good race for himself coming in at 15:51.
Holy Cross was one of the better team performances I’ve seen since my freshman year at Bryant. We had 3 wins and 3 school records fall.
After being so close to the record at last weeks race, I had a lot of people coming up to me asking me if I was going to break the record this week. This included friends, teammates, and even people in the athletic department. They were all very encouraging, but the pressure was definitely there. I had to rush the warm-up because the meet was 10 minutes ahead of schedule, but I usually wait until last minute so it didn’t bother me. I was seeded first so I expected to have to either lead or be close to the front the whole time, but after going to the front in the first 100, about five guys swung wide and sprinted past in taking themselves through the first 400 meters in 62 seconds. I was spit out the back literally into last place and came through 400 in 64. Steph told me after that when she saw me go to the back she thought “what the hell is he doing out there” then she looked at her watch and realized that I came through right on pace. So I swung wide and made a BIG move. Probably ran 44 for that 300 to get myself into second place, about 15 meters behind a guy from Maine who was leading. I reeled him in for the next 400 and crept up on him with 300 to go just like last week at Stonehill. I knew I had the kick so I went right by. Our team was set up along the back stretch and they were all yelling a screaming as I made the pass. I don’t think I’ve ever felt a rush of adrenaline like that before. For the last 200 all I could think was ‘hang on’ and I did. Crossing the line and seeing 3:55 gave me an equal feeling of relief and elation at the same time, knowing the dream I had worked so hard for four years to achieve had finally happened. What made it even better was that my parents, my cousin (who runs for Maine) and her parents were there along with two of my former teammates that had graduated as well.
On the way the race unfolded, Steph added: That was magnificent, especially seeing how he got into a little bit of tactical trouble early into the race, but still managed to stay calm and control and finish the race confidently and winning by a large margin. That race showed me that he could race well under any situation.
Jason Eddy (class of ’02) set the record back in 2002, among the many he set during an incredible senior season. Jay was happy to see the mark taken down, saying “I’m glad he was able to break the record. Records are made to be broken. They serve as a great motivator, and hopefully provided Ryan with a target/goal to strive for, as I’m sure his new record will serve as a great motivator for those that follow.”
Coach Steph continues: Ryan Busby is in the best possible position he can be in going into the 1500m at the NEC Championships. He is confident in his training, his ability, his strength, his speed and that he can race with anyone in the conference. That is a very exciting place to be. The confidence he gained from his two recent invitational victories were just the icing on the cake. He is ready for something special. What I love about Ryan and where he is right now is that it was a four year developmental process with him. He has always had the speed, but his endurance was a work in progress for sure. We all know that endurance takes a long time to develop, and to see that come together this year for him is just unbelievable. He has the speed and the endurance now and if he is in touch with the leaders at the end of that race he can do something special. I will be so nervous watching him, but no matter what the outcome I am so proud of seeing how far he has come the last 4 years. I will definitely miss him terribly next year. He is anxious to break his 800m PR this weekend at Brown just as a primer for the NEC meet, and another boost of confidence.
It wasn’t just Busby experiencing success out on the track. Ryan added: Besides me Senior Anthony Montiero Shattered his own school record in the 110H by almost 3 tenths of a second. Our 4×400 team also ran a great race. With three freshmen and one sophomore it’s a very young team with a lot of potential. Both Freshmen Kevin Luine and Nick Douglas split 48.80 on the last two legs to come from behind and take home the win in dramatic fashion. It was a great way to close out a perfect day.
The Bryant program looks to be in good hands with Steph Reilly and the team is responding to the training, as evidenced by the records that are falling. Jay Eddy was one of the tougher competitors that I knew, so to see Ryan break his record tells me that he must be in phenomenal shape. The CPA side of Jay is happy to see it broken, but is the runner side of Jay starting to get the itch again? Will this bring Jay Eddy out of retirement? Rest assured, I’ll harass him until he does. Anyway, best of luck to Ryan and the rest of the Bulldogs as they head into the conference championships.