Chris Low didn’t take long to savor becoming Long Beach State’s first All-American in the 800 meters in the NCAA Track & Field Championships at Hayward Field on Friday.
The junior was already thinking about the 2015 national championships after placing seventh in 1:48.28 in the two-lap event in his first NCAA meet appearance.
“This was my first experience at nationals but I can’t wait to come back,” Low said. “I’m hungry. I felt that I had something more in me.”
Competing in the NCAA championships was a distant vision to say the least for Low a year ago after missing the 2013 season while recovering from a hamstring injury.
“Honestly, probably not,” Low said. “This year has been to mainly train hard and see what I can do. I ended up making here and it was a big accomplishment for me.”
Brandon McBride of Mississippi was a wire-to-wire winner in 1:46.26 after holding off a late charge by Ryan Schnulle of Florida to win by three-hundredths of a second.
Low anticipated a fast early pace by McBride and was tucked into fifth place in the eight-runner field after the opening 400m passed in 51 seconds. Low, however, was unable to make up any ground down the homestretch in the race where the first four finishers were within two-tenths of a second with McBride, Schnulle (1:46.29), Keffri Neal of Kentucky (1:46.39) and Patrick Rono of Arkansas (1:46.26).
“I knew McBride was going to take it out fast and I kind of expected it,” said about McBride, the yearly collegiate leader. “I just didn’t have it today. They just outraced me today.”
It’s been an overachieving season for Low in his first NCAA Division I season. Low, a two-time State community college champion at College of the Canyons, ran a school record 1:47.52 in the West Regional two weeks ago.
In all, Low, who had a best of 1:49.16 entering the season, twice lowered the 1983 school record of 1:48.41
“I learned a lot this year all the little things like more strength training and more reps to help me get better,” Low said.
Low was the second Long Beach State athlete to earn All-America honors in two days along with sophomore Willie Alexander, who placed second in the long jump on Thursday.
The 49ers are in a five-way tie for 18th with 10 points with one day remaining in the four-day completion that concludes today. Oregon leads Florida, 53-28, for the top spot. Sophomore Chris Enriquez placed a non-scoring 20th in the 10,000m on Wednesday for the 49ers.
“What excites me is that we are returning all three of these athletes with this meet under their belt,” Long Beach State coach Andy Sythe said. “In time, they will realize who significant what they did and have something to be proud and be build off of.”