ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The old saying — “the third time’s a charm” — proved accurate for Wilmington College men’s track and field senior Simon Heys Thursday at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Heys, competing in the 10,000-meter run for the third consecutive year, earned All-America honors with a fourth-place finish.
Seeded 16th in the 22-person field, the Wilmington High School graduate remained in the pack early and was around 12th place at the midway point of the race. According to head coach Ron Combs, it was important to not get too aggressive too early, even when Ethan Gregg (University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse) and eventual national champion Alex Phillip (John Carroll University) broke free from the rest of the group.
“The conditions were going to be perfect and we knew people were going to be aggressive,” Combs said. “Simon did a great job not getting caught up in that. He was so patient the first four miles.”
Heys’ five-kilometer split was 14:42, and he ended up running the second half of the race 12 seconds faster than the first. But it wasn’t until the 6,800-meter mark that former Hurricane standout moved himself into All-America position (top eight).
From that point on, Heys kept passing people. He moved past Ryan Kredell (Haverford College) and Enrique Salazar (Manchester University) at the 7,600-meter mark and moved into fifth place by passing Andrew Mah (MIT) with 2,000 meters to go. It wasn’t until the final lap around the track that Heys passed Elias Lindgren (Williams College) to finish the race in fourth.
“I’m so proud of him,” said Combs. “He is one of the most dedicated student-athletes I’ve ever coach. He deserves everything he gets.”
After a 13th-place finish in 2021 and crossing the finish line 12th in 2022, Heys, a two-time cross country All-America runner, had fulfilled his goal of garnering All-America honors in the outdoor 10,000-meter run. He did so in style, shattering his own school record by more than 26 seconds by crossing the finish line in 29:12.62, a time that is the ninth fastest in the history of NCAA Division III.
“I think the biggest difference from this year versus last year is I didn’t stray away from what I classify as my best race,” Heys said. “Patience is a virtue, especially in the 10,000-meter run.”
Heys, alongside the three other Quakers — Brady Vilvens, JJ Durr and Nathan Borgan — will have a day off today before competing in the 5,000-meter run, high jump and hammer throw respectively on Saturday.