In his final lap, Jack Aho moved from fourth, bypassing All-American Vincent Kiprop as he closed in on the first-place position. On Saturday the sophomore distance runner finished in second place with a 7:57.54 time in the 3000-meter race — one of the fastest performances in school history.
Aho achieved this feat in Boston University’s John Thomas Terrier Classic, where the Michigan men’s track and field team’s distance runners showcased standout performances, though the meet was non-scoring.
In the race, Aho immediately placed himself as part of the leading pack. He led through the 1500-meter mark and was still bunched with the chase pack by the 2000-meter split — well behind the winner Colin Liebold.
He started the race strong and sustained his position among the leaders. As the bell rang to signal the last lap, Aho made his move, pushing past everyone in the chase pack. He bolted down the home straightaway achieving a prestigious sub-eight minute time and a place as the record holder of the 13th fastest time in school history.
“A sub-eight minute time is a big barrier,” said Michigan men’s distance coach Kevin Sullivan. “To break that barrier as a true sophomore really helps build Jack’s confidence. He showed a lot of poise today.”
Also in the 3000-meter race, a pair true freshmen displayed impressive debuts. John Tatter went 8:17.62, while fellow freshman Will Landowne clocked 8:23.89. Junior Jacob Lee finished between the two at 8:18.09.
“John and Will, both true freshmen, had great races,” Sullivan said. “Jack (Aho) was running those times last year. I think this shows we have a bright future ahead of us.”
Fifth-year senior Chase Barnett and senior Ben Hill, both having struggled with injuries over the past year, dissipated any lingering concerns over their health and fitness as they each nearly broke four-minute mile times.
Barnett ran 4:00.86 in the 1500-meter race for seventh overall. Hill followed less than a second later at 4:01.76 for ninth place. While they fell just short of a sub-four minute mile, they both posted top 15 mile times in school history — Barnett at 13th and Hill 15th.
“This was a break out for Ben and showed him that he can compete at the highest levels,” Sullivan said. “Chase had injury scare. This race gave us and him confidence that it was nothing too serious and we can move back into more training next week.”
Both runners started out modestly, running in the ninth and 10th positions through much of the first three-quarters of the race.
Barnett then made his move in the final lap. He swung wide and picked off two competitors to take seventh place, moving into the lead group of eight men. Hill remained a few paces behind Barnett in 10th place.
On the backstretch, Barnett briefly moved up into sixth place but ultimately failed to keep the pace of the other leaders as they rounded the corner and sprinted down the homestretch. Barnett ended up as the first runner over four minutes and Hill finished with a career-best by nearly four seconds.
“If we get another crack at running a sub-four minute mile and it’s in the interest of the team, that’s something we will try to do,” Sullivan said. “We will focus on scoring points and performing well at the Big Ten Championships.”