Former, Current Track Stars on Parallel Paths

Kyle Flett and Mikhail Vasilyev

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Former Campolindo track & field star Thomas Joyce, who still owns the 1600 meter school record, broke the 4-minute mile barrier on February 11, running 3:58.53 on an indoor oval at the Husky Invitational hosted by the University of Washington. In the race, Joyce faced off against some of the country’s top distance runners, including U.S. Olympians such as Lopez Lomong and Evan Jager.

Joyce graduated from Campolindo in 2012, having participated in 4 years of cross country and track.  He won the individual North Coast Section Division III cross country title and advanced to the track & field state championships in both the 1600 and 3200 meter events in his senior year. Joyce went on to run at UC Berkeley, where he is now in his 4th and final year of NCAA competition.

The Cougar distance running program has a history of producing collegiate-caliber athletes.  Other recent graduates who have gone on to the NCAA include Brighie Leach, who is in her 2nd year competing for Princeton University, Carrie Verdon, who reached the National Championship finals in the 5000 meters as a Colorado Buffalo, and 2-time cross country state champion Aidan Goltra, who is now running at Columbia University.

Primed to follow in the footsteps of these fabled distance runners is current senior Niki Moore. Like Joyce in his senior year, Moore is looking to break school records and claim a step on the podium at the California state championships before moving on to a collegiate running career.

Interestingly, on the same day that Joyce was rubbing elbows with Olympians at the Husky Invite, Moore was running 4:02.95 for the 1500 meter distance at the California winter track championships in Arcadia. The time converts to 4:21 for 1600 meters, just 11 seconds off of Joyce’s school record.

Moore is a 4-year track veteran and reigning 800m champion. However, this year, for the 1st time, Moore gave up his multi-sport schedule to focus solely on distance running. Instead of playing football for his 9th consecutive year, Moore spent his fall developing an aerobic base by running cross country.

Moore began his track and field career as a sprinter, and has only recently turned to the longer races.  It is a transition that has forced Moore to address his weaknesses.”The sprint training is usually what my strength is,” he said. “So really just focusing on my weaknesses rather than what I’ve already established is what I can do to improve further.”  That includes logging 50 miles weeks and heading out the door for a long run of over 10 miles on most weekends.

The switch to year-round running has been a big factor in Moore’s ascension to elite status in the longer track events.  While it was a decision Moore struggled with, focusing exclusively on running in his senior year was made easier by the nature of the sport. “[Track has] the spirit of competition that can really push people to their best,” said Moore.

Moore attributes his strong start to his finial high school track season to “a lot of running in the off season and a lot of weights- just getting more comfortable with running.”

Moore’s next big test will come in the first dual meet of the track season against Clayton Valley Charter on Wednesday, March 15, where he is likely to compete in the 800 meter race.

His next shot at the 1600 meter event, and Joyce’s school record, will come at the Dublin Distance Fiesta on Saturday, March 18.  The top finishers in that race will qualify for the Arcadia Invitational in April, a national caliber meet that could be a dress rehearsal for the state championships.

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