US Open Blog: Dustin Wilson, Chestnut Hill Academy senior, Foot Locker Finalist


Hello all. Last year I had made it a goal to make it to the Millrose Games. In Janurary of 2011 I ran the New Balance Games in the hopes of qualifying; I ran a PR, but the time wasn’t on par with the Millrose Qualifiers. This year, I knew I had a better shot at making it and I intended on running at “The Garden” as the summer months faded into the cross-country season. Needless to say, I was shocked to learn that the meet would be moved to the Armory instead, my desire to run Millrose diminished and I began thinking about turning my season’s focus to the 3k.


Coach Hines and I have always known that I was going to be a 3k-5k runner rather than a miler. In addition, this indoor season we’ve been particularly careful when it comes to racing, making sure to save good efforts for the championship season and outdoors when they matter more. We were conservative in our racing and training schedule. Since the indoor schedule was released we had known that I’d have a relatively long layoff period between the middle of January and the middle of February. We had decided to forgo any attempt to qualify for Millrose because without the Garden I didn’t feel it had the same allure as it did in previous years. We had intended on using this time to get into top 3k shape in preparation for states. However, when invited to the mile at the US Open, I jumped at the opportunity.

In spite of the fact that I am not a miler, and that we had planned a layoff from racing, we decided that running the race was in my best interest. Very rarely do athletes have the opportunity to race solely for the sake of competition. We’re always concerned with hitting times to make nationals, states, M.O.C or districts. This race was an opportunity for me to practice racing tactically. Because there was no pressure to hit a mark there was no anxiety heading into the race. I knew the track was slow; I wasn’t there to run 4:10, I was there to take in the experience of The Garden and see how well I can race against some of the region’s better milers. I’d also be remiss to exclude that ever since committing to Columbia, I’ve taken advantage of every opportunity to go up to New York.

I went for an easy four miles the morning of the race and promptly went back to bed within minutes of returning home. Coach Hines and I made the trip up to New York Saturday afternoon. We arrived at the hotel to pick up my race information by three only to discover that we couldn’t get into The Garden until five. I settled into a couch in the lobby and watched the clock for the next two hours. Luckily, David Oliver and Bershawn Jackson were eating lunch only a few feet away from me. I listened to their conversation and learned far more about hurdling than I ever expected to. Around five we migrated over to The Garden and the feeling of being about to race set in (It was a remarkably similar feeling to the pre-Foot Locker feeling). As it turns out there just happened to be a Megadeath concert playing in the theater attached to the Garden that night.  Between the track meet and simultaneous heavy metal concert  I’m sure the MSG staff was sufficiently entertained by the cast of characters that showed up to the venue.

This recent trip to The Garden was the first time I’d been in the arena since being very young. It was also the first time that I’d seen it empty. We made our way down from the upper deck to trackside and I warmed up for about 10 minutes on the track with Sara Sargent. Sara had run Millrose her freshman year and I kept her advice in mind while running my race.  My first impression of the track was that it felt faster than it was. I came through the first 800m of my warm-up at 7:30 pace despite the fact I felt that I was going 6:20-6:30. This misreading of pace would come back to bite me later that night.

I was feeling rather confident going into the race. I wasn’t pleased with the size of the field, ten runners with PRs within 7 seconds of one another meant there would be a lot of pushing and shoving. However, it’s a skill that I have to develop at some point, it may as well be in a low-pressure race. I got off the line poorly and found myself in 8th or 9th. I swung out to the 2nd lane because the pace didn’t quite feel right, also I felt that I’d be chopping my strides were I to settle into 8th. My coach and I had discussed being in 4th  with 4 laps to go and making a strong push to the finish from there. I sat between 4th and 5th until we came around to the 440y split of 70. It didn’t feel so slow, but the track does have that effect. Everyone’s ears perked up and the real race, which I was hoping wouldn’t start until at least halfway, started with 1320y to go. I remember being in 7th with 7 to go and making a push down the backstretch into 4th. I could’ve taken the lead at that point, and now I regret not doing so, but in the moment I thought it would be too aggressive to make a push so early.  With two laps to go I sat in 5th and closed well to finish 4th. The race wasn’t quite what we had hoped for but there were some positives to be taken away from it. Although I made a mistake by letting us go out in 70, I closed in 3:12. Certainly not the fastest 1320y run in the field, but a good sign for the longer races during the outdoor season. I stayed competitive throughout the race and ran to the best of my ability given the first 440y.

After the race I ran a long cool-down. My feelings about the race immediately after were mostly negative. While I feel better about it now, I’m more pleased with the lessons I learned during the race rather than the race itself.  I’m looking forward to returning to a 200m track and a distance I’m better suited for. Despite the less than spectacular race, I was completely in awe of The Garden, the experience. and the runners I met. I had a brief conversation with Bernard Lagat after returning to the warm-up area. It’s amazing how he can be so easygoing and kind to fans just minutes before he competes. I strongly suggest that anyone seize the opportunity to run at The Garden . In retrospect , it was by far one of the most enjoyable races I’ve ever run. I’d like to thank PennTrack for the opportunity to let me tell my account of the meet, and I wish all of you the best of luck in the final weeks of indoor.