Versatile freshman Michael Phillips falls just short of national team

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on February 12, 2019 at 10:53 pm Contact Tim: [email protected]center_img The first 6,500 meters were no problem for Michael Phillips.It was 65 degrees in Tallahassee, Florida, and familiar to Phillips, who competed at the same course while running for Chiles (Florida) High School. The freshman remembers hearing his calculated exhales and the sound of his feet, interrupted every so often by Syracuse head coach Brien Bell’s voice reminding Phillips what place he was in. But by the 6,500-meter mark, the freshman running his first ever 8-kilometer race began to slow.“It got pretty tough, and I started to struggle,” Phillips said.Phillips finished in eighth place at the USA Track & Field Junior Cross Country Championships with a time of 24:56.70, just over 10 seconds shy of making the national team for the World XC Championships. Two weeks earlier, Phillips ran at Cornell then went to the John Thomas Terrier Invitational the next week, lowering his mile time by 15 seconds. Only one other runner — fellow freshman Matthew Scrape — competed in all three races. Phillips has pushed himself since arriving at SU, hoping to match his versatility with improved stamina.Performing in indoors was Phillips’ primary focus going into the new year, but the junior championships had been in the back of his mind all winter. As a senior in high school, he attended the USATF Championships and was struck by the talent before him.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“When I watched the men’s 10K,” Phillips said, “It was super professional the way they were running times. I never even ran a 5k in high school, and they were doing it twice.”When Phillips returned to Tallahassee to run the event this year, both Scrape and him ran the 8k, the longest possible distance for the U20 Junior Championships on Feb. 2. Phillips committed to SU mainly for his 1600m and the 3200m. The 8000m seemed out of his element, but Bell believed Phillips was driven by a chance to compete on the U.S. national team.“His fitness showed that he would have the opportunity to compete up front,” Bell said.So Phillips traveled back home and used the opportunity to visit friends and family. Scrape was already going to compete, giving Phillips a fellow freshman to be there with him. In the fall, Phillips readied himself with voluntary 7:30 a.m. runs with his cross country team.Senior teammate Simon Smith viewed Phillip’s performance as impressive — not because of his place, but because of his versatility. On Jan. 25, Phillips ran a 4:02.57 mile at the Boston University John Thomas Terrier Invitational, finishing 10th.Since the competition, Phillips has returned his focus to shorter distances in preparation for the ACC Indoor Championships later this month. But, the extra meets will ready him for bigger races to come.“I didn’t quit,” Phillips said, “As it got closer to the end I realized I wasn’t going to make it, but that didn’t stop me. I know what I have to give.”last_img read more