Thursday, December 8, 2022

Tribe runner earns seventh at NCAA Championships

William & Mary's Regan Rome took seventh at the NCAA Championships. (Photo courtesy of Tribe Athletics)
William & Mary’s Regan Rome took seventh at the NCAA Championships. (Photo courtesy of Tribe Athletics)

William & Mary sophomore Regan Rome is spending time in her native Pennsylvania, unwinding from what proved to be a historic performance during the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon on June 11.

Competing in the 5,000-meter run, Rome earned a seventh-place finish with a time of 16:06.50. With her finish, Rome was named a first-team All-American for the first time.

Additionally, she becomes the second sophomore in Tribe history to earn All-American honors in all three seasons of a single year. Rome earned second-team All-American honors during indoor track and field, and additional All-American recognition during cross country.

“It feels great,” said Rome about being a first-team All-American. “That was my main goal going into the race. It’s great relaxing now and looking back on it.”

Heading into the NCAA Championships, Rome was expecting a more tactical race — as opposed to one dictated solely by speed. In larger races, some runners choose to conserve energy early to set themselves up for a fast finish, also known as a “kick.”

Her intuition proved correct, as the first 1,000 meters of the race were completed in 3:20, which placed the athletes on a 16:40 pace. For comparison, this year’s winning time was 15:57.07 by University of Arkansas runner Dominique Scott.

The slow pace was fine with Rome, who settled into the pack and matched other runners stride for stride. Confident in her kick, Rome was comfortable cruising in the middle of the pack.

“It was a pretty slow first mile,” Rome said. “After the first mile, someone took the lead and took it into a more normal pace.”

On the fifth lap, a group of runners began separating themselves from the pack and race began stringing out. Prepared for the surge, Rome picked up her pace and hung off the back end of the leading group of runners.

As the runners passed the 3,000-meter mark in the race, Rome was in 10th place and within one second of the leader. As the race went on, Rome picked up her speed and methodically navigated through the field of runners.

By the final lap, Rome was running shoulder to shoulder with the lead group. For the next 400 meters, Rome battled to hang with the top five runners, who started to pull away from the rest of the group. Her kick wasn’t strong enough to hang with the top finishers, but Rome still managed to cross the finish line — a mere .03 seconds behind sixth-place Lauren LaRocco of the University of Portland — before collapsing from exhaustion and needing the attention of medical staff.

Minutes later, after catching her breath, Rome was ecstatic to learn she had earned first-team All-American status.

“I was just really happy and excited,” she said. “It’s been a lot of hard work every day, putting in the work for it and seeing it come together. I never thought I’d be at this level.”

Rome is resting comfortably at home now and said she will take a couple of weeks off before looking ahead to her junior season, which she hopes will be even more successful than this year.

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