The South Brunswick High School boys 4×800 team reached a new height last year at the Penn Relays. The Vikings placed fifth in the 4×800 Championship of America final with a time of 7:43.56, breaking the Middlesex County record set by St. Joseph (Met.) in 1975.
Nick Neville, a South Brunswick senior and one of the runners in last year’s event, wants to turn that kind of success into a tradition.
“We want to keep it as a tradition, to get to Penn Relays and qualify for Champion ship America. We want to keep that as the standard for teams to come after us,” said Neville. “I’m highly looking forward to it because it’s such a prestigious meet and I feel honored for our team to be able to get in again.”
Neville remembers the atmosphere surrounding the event. Thousands of people’s eyes watching him run was something he wasn’t used to, but it definitely didn’t stop the team of Matthew Tamasi, Christian Garrido, Morgan Murray and Neville from taking care of business.
“The first day, there were a couple thousand people and I don’t think I had ever been in a stadium with a couple thousand people before that point. For me, that felt pretty big,” said Neville.
“It was huge for our team because we felt like we were in such a great spot coming off the day before and having all these people looking for you, cheering for you and yelling at you. And that motivated me and my teammates and it really pushed us as well to end up getting fifth and breaking the county record, which is what we wanted to do and setting the bar for the rest of the season,” added Neville.
That bar is set pretty high, but there is a lot of confidence that the team can get back to the same spot, even with some graduations from the team. Neville and Matt Zamorski are the only two runners who competed at last year’s Penn Relays, but the Vikings are counting on contributions from Joe Weber, Ryan Budhu and Jared Fisher.
“I think we’re highly capable of making Championship this year. That’s all everybody wants. Just have to keep it going and I think our guys understand that,” said Neville. “They’re doing what they have to do to get better to help us and try to make that top 12. Hopefully, we’ll get that top six and get that medal again.”
Being there before will certainly help the squad. Adrenaline will only help you so much, but knowing what to expect and having that experience is something that Neville believes will only add to their chances of success at the Penn Relays.
“I think it helps because me personally, I’m not going to be as nervous as I was last year. I had no idea what to expect and I kind of told the guys what to expect, how it’s going to feel, how it’s going to look and sound. I’ll try to tell them to not be worried. Go out there and run your race. All the pieces will come in place and the job will get done,” said Neville.
Speed work was another key for training for the event, as the Vikings have been running 4x400s and open 400s. Neville pointed out that they tried to bond more as they prepare for a quick 4×800 and it will be nice to let it all out on Friday.
“Doing our workouts as a team, that builds confidence and it builds trust as well, knowing that these guys are hitting the workouts with me and we’re hitting them fast. I know these guys can do it and this is all motivational for everyone,” said Neville.
“It seems to be working because individually, we’ve all been improving and we haven’t gotten a chance to show ourselves 100 percent. That’s what Friday is for.”
It will be the senior’s final Penn Relays and Neville wants to go out with a bang. If the Vikings want to turn this process into a real tradition, then Neville will have to prove himself again and he is more than up for the challenge.
“Coming off such a successful season last year, I had those guys pushing me and I want to keep it going and not let what they had stop. I wanted to keep it going so I can end up where we were last year or even better,” said Neville.
“I want to prove myself for my last year. I want to end it on a high note and I know the rest of the guys want to as well. Me and Joe are seniors, Budhu and Jared are juniors and this is a he chance for them and us to get this experience. I want to make it good for us and our team and keep it going for years to come.”
Staff Writer Matt Silva: firstname.lastname@example.org