In a sport where times and splits are the top priorities, sophomore John D’Arcy is an athlete who likes to win as well.
While D’Arcy does not debunk the value of times, his ability to finish first is what sets him apart. D’Arcy is a proven winner for the No. 3 Michigan men’s track team, and his track record speaks for itself.
He has won both of the 600-meter events that he has raced in this season. And his team has won two of the three 4×400-meter relays this year.
“I’m a real competitive person,” D’Arcy said. “It’s definitely part of my personality. I don’t like to give anyone an edge. I just try to go out and beat that person, and a time is just something else that happens.”
D’Arcy is not the fastest middle distance runner for the Wolverines, but he finds a way to win. Last weekend at the Sykes-Sabok Invitational in State College, he came from behind to edge Central Michigan’s Steven Wezner by .03 seconds in the 600-meter run. His time of 1:18.12 was a personal record.
“He’s a tremendous competitor,” coach Ron Warhurst said. “You should have seen him at Penn State. He was at least eight yards behind (the leader) for the entire race but came around the turn and won.”
Winning often takes a backseat to the clock — a runner’s primary competitor. Provisional and automatic qualifying times, school records and personal bests are etched into a runner’s memory like an interactive database. If they seek a flight in the NCAA championships, they know the required time down to a tick.
Yet there are still runners who store that extra fire in their belly. D’Arcy fuels that fire at the finish line.
“I usually have a pretty strong finish,” D’Arcy said. “I may not be the fastest guy on the track, but I can hold my speed for a long time.”
D’Arcy’s competitive demeanor has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.
“He comes to every single race thinking he can win,” senior captain Seth Waits said. “It’s a testament to how strong he is, mentally.”
D’Arcy’s impact as a consistent winner rarely comes into fruition, as most meets on the Wolverines’ schedule are non-scoring. But the Clayton, Ohio native plans to light up the scoreboard at the upcoming Big Ten Championships.
“Last year, I only scored one point (at the Big Ten Championships),” D’Arcy said. “I really had a disappointing performance, and I want to improve. Hopefully, I’ll be able to score some team points in the 600. It’s a real competitive field this year, but I think I can win.”
Because the NCAA Indoor Championships do not host the 600-meter event, a first-place finish at the conference championship would be the premier distinction.
D’Arcy will also run a leg in the 4×400-meter relay, joining Waits, sophomore Stann Waithe and senior Darnell Talbert. If the foursome runs a 3:08 or better — seven seconds faster than their season’s best — they could have a shot at provisionally qualifying for the NCAA Championships in March.
“My main focus now is to qualify in the 4×400 relay,” D’Arcy said. “We might try to do that in (the Big Ten Championships) or last-chance meets, but we’ll need to run (a time of 3:08) to be on the edge of getting in.”
D’Arcy will sit out this weekend at the Harold Silverston Invitational in Ann Arbor. He will return to the track next weekend at the Big Ten Championships in West Lafayette.