Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Mike Palmquist Talks About Jake Campbell Breaking His 37-year-old St. Olaf Indoor Mile Record

Last weekend was a memorable one for the mile as high school runner Drew Hunter broke Alan Webb's HS record for the indoor mile, and Jake Campbell broke Mike Palmquist's 37-year-old St. Olaf indoor mile mark with a time of 4:07.52. 

Mike Palmquist. Photo courtesy of CSU

That’s great news," said Palmquist, an Associate Provost, Professor of English, and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. "I’m really glad Jake got the record. He got hung up at cross country nationals this year in a pileup at the start, and I think he missed a chance to be in contention for the win.

"Paul (Escher, Campell's St. Olaf teammate who is the 2015 NCAA DIII champion in the mile and metric mile)  is amazing. (Campbell and Escher have been trading wins lately. Escher finished second to Campbell in 4:08.48 at Nebraska last weekend.) 

Escher is also on an academic quest of a degree in medicine.  If all goes well this season, one of his athletic goals is to run a sub-four minute mile. 
"(Escher) ran a 4:02 last June, and I think he really does have the ability to get under four.

"The kids at St. Olaf are getting some great coaching. On top of that, they’ve got a great sense of togetherness and a willingness to push each other. What a great group of athletes.

"That record(Palmquist's 4:07.9 mark set in 1979) is a funny one. I was trying to get under the NCAA Division I qualifying time for indoors.  They didn’t have a DIII indoors while I was in college, and I remember pushing as hard as I could to get it. 

"Jon Stokka pushed me for a while(in the record setting race) and then I was on my own. I just didn’t have the kick I needed to get (the NCAA DI qualifier). I crossed the line, looked up at the time, and was immensely disappointed. Meanwhile, the folks in the old fieldhouse- we had a great track for the day, but it’s been replaced by a newer 200 meter oval – were going crazy because I’d broken the fieldhouse record. It was a weird feeling. I ran a faster 1500 the next year, but I’m sure that(school record) will be gone soon.

"It’s good to see the records going. They’ve been around too long. The only one I’m attached to in any emotional way is the 5000 I ran in my last race at the MIAC championships in 1980. I was doubling back from the 1500 and I almost gave up with about three laps to go. 

There were several All-Americans in the race, including my teammate, Sparky Peterson (who had beaten me the week before). I had dropped off of the lead pack, but one of my teammates yelled something that got my head back in the race and I ended up having a very fast last 800 meters. The time isn’t that great and the school record is gone, but it was very cool to be able to suck it up and run a fast, for then, time."

After graduating from St. Olaf, Palmquist took to the roads, demonstrating his range as a distance runner. He set a course record of 29:07 in the Get in Gear 10K in 1983, and has PRs of 1:04:53 in the half-marathon(set in Philadelphia in 1984), and 2:18:42.3 in Grandma's Marathon in 1981.  More importantly, Palmquist got a PhD in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. 

His racing days behind him, Palmquist still gets out for an occasional run.  "I’m doing my best to keep at it, but I’m feeling old and slow at times. Still, it’s good to get out and, every once in a while, I feel like I can sort of open it up a bit. I’m hoping to finally get rid of the weight I put on raising kids and getting tenure. That would help a lot."

Campbell is the defending NCAA DIII 3K champion, who got his start in running by emulating his mother.  A single mom, she still found time for running, and set an example for Campbell.  His talent and work ethic paid off last weekend, and, as Palmquist said, Campbell and Escher may take down more records before their senior year finishes this summer.

No comments: