First crossed by Roger Bannister nearly 60 years ago, it is a threshold that still has powerful meaning in the track and field world: running the mile in less than four minutes.
Dartmouth College senior Will Geoghegan of Brunswick roared through that doorway Saturday at the Boston University Terrier Invitational. His winning time of 3:58.04 set the Dartmouth all-time mile record, the Ivy League record, eclipsed Geoghegan’s personal best by nearly 7 seconds and made him the first collegian to break 4 minutes this season.
“The mile is cool in that it’s still an event that people who don’t really follow running can still relate to,” Geoghegan said.
Geoghegan ran in the second heat of a race among 176 competitors.
The first two heats were split evenly based on past performances and both heats had designated pace-setters, known as rabbits.
“He took the 800 meters in about 1:59. It was actually a better pacing job than the (first heat) got,” Geoghegan said. “It’s nice to have a rabbit when you’re trying to run a fast time but what you’ll often see happen is the rabbit does a really good job and then when he drops out the pace will slow down. I’m glad that didn’t happen.”
Geoghegan wouldn’t let it.
In second place with 600 meters to go he sensed the leader slowing, took the lead and continued to run lap times of 29 to 30 seconds.
“The crowd at BU meets is always phenomenal and they like seeing 4-minute miles. When they saw I had a chance to do it, they really started getting into it,” Geoghegan said.
Geoghegan had run a near-personal best of 4:05.75 when he beat former NCAA cross country champ Sam Chelenga at the Dartmouth Relays on Jan. 12.
Dartmouth Coach Barry Harwick said Geoghegan’s PR of 4:05.71, run as a junior, was deceiving. Geoghegan had clocked a 3:44 in the 1,500 meters last spring, “which translates to more like a 4:02,” Harwick said.
Combined with Geoghegan’s 14th-place finish at the NCAA Division I cross country championships and the benefits of training with senior teammates Steve Mangan (Honeoye Falls, N.Y.) and John Bleday (Westwood, Mass.), Harwick said he was confident Geoghegan had more in the tank.
“Still, running that fast that early in the season was really incredible,” Harwick said.
Competing in the first heat of the race, Mangan ran a 4:01.31 with Bleday right behind in 4:01.44, both of which broke the 20-year-old Dartmouth record.
“I really think John and Steve would have (broken 4 minutes) if they had been with me in my heat,” Geoghegan said.
“The pace-setter in Will’s race did do a very good job but the athlete still has to seize that opportunity and Will did that,” Harwick said.
The sub-four time does not change Geoghegan’s goals for this season because the aim all along was to qualify for the NCAA championships.
Since the top 16 times make the field and his is currently the fastest, Geoghegan would seem a safe bet to making the trip to Albuquerque, N.M., on March 14-15.
Geoghegan will conclude his running career at Dartmouth this spring during outdoor track but still has collegiate eligibility for another indoor and outdoor season.
Since the Ivy League does not allow graduate students to participate in intercollegiate athletics, Geoghegan has begun applying to grad schools that combine strong computer science with strong track teams – among them Oregon, Texas, Colorado, Ohio State and Stanford.
“Whether it’s at Oregon or Stanford or Texas, as fast as he’s running now I fully expect him to be running faster next year,” Harwick said.
TRACK AND FIELD
Ithaca College senior Jake Willis of Gorham is a captain of the indoor track and field team.
Southern Maine Community College will fete Coach Matt Richards at 11:30 a.m. Saturday after the alumni game Richards just won his 100th game.
SWIMMING AND DIVING
Saint Michael’s junior Nathan Paluso of Windham was ECAC Division II Swimmer of the Week for winning the 1,000 freestyle and placing second in the 100 breast stroke, the 200 breast and swimming with the second-place 400 free relay at a dual meet at SUNY-Potsdam.
• Saint Michael’s sophomore Catherine Tierney of Cape Elizabeth placed second in the women’s 1,000 free.
• Elms College senior Keegan Goan of Westbrook made his final home meet one to remember, winning the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke, placing second in the 50-fly and anchoring the 400 free relay to a record win. The relay shattered the Elms College and pool record by more than 9 seconds. Elms beat Regis to improve to 6-2.
Johns Hopkins junior Amanda Masse of Portland (Deering) contributed to a 21-2-1 team that reached the Division III Elite Eight, winning two games in double OT. A defender, Masse also made the Centennial Conference Academic Honor Roll for the second time and was honored as her team’s most improved player.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: