NAIA Men's Track National Championships Recap: Day 3 - 5k
May 26, 2012
MARION, Ind. -- The 2012 track season came to an end for the Mustang men Saturday evening in Marion Indiana, with Anthony Pizzo and John Gilbertson competing in the final of the men’s 5000m championship race. Though not the finish either had hoped for, it was the best they had that night. No regrets for the two men; they fought to the finish in spite of difficult and unforeseen circumstances.
During Friday night’s preliminary heat, John Gilbertson lost his left shoe going in to lap 4 of the 12 & ½ lap race. Managing to qualify for the final on a foot seriously bloodied and torn from the track, Gilbertson was determined to race the next day, regardless of the pain. With a tape job that took over an hour to perfect, Gilbertson put his spikes on and stepped back onto the track Saturday to compete in the final race of his junior campaign.
It was a battle from the gun. Although willing himself to run with the pack through the first several laps, Gilbertson gradually began to fall back. Running through intense pain, Gilbertson proved why he was the fastest American born 5000m runner in the NAIA this season. “Never once did Gilby utter a complaint or make an excuse,” Coach Schroeder noted. “Regardless of his circumstances, every time Gilbertson toes the line he will give his absolute best. He was a warrior out there tonight.” Gracious in victory and gracious in defeat, Gilbertson’s performance truly honored The Master’s College and more importantly, the Lord.
Teammate Anthony Pizzo also faced difficulty as he struggled through several weeks of extreme fatigue late in the season. Taking a few weeks down from training during the month leading up to the National championships, Pizzo was not where he wanted to be. Still experiencing some symptoms, Pizzo wasn’t able to put together a race comparable to the heights he achieved earlier this year. Nonetheless, he too fought hard to the finish.
Gilbertson and Pizzo were ranked 3rd and 5th in the nation in the 5000m going into Saturday’s competition. Pizzo ended up coming in 12th and Gilbertson 14th, not at all what they or anyone else had expected. “This sport humbles you,” Schroeder remarked. “You can do all the work, but at the end of the day, anything can happen. These two men did everything right. Ultimately, you have to accept the fact that for whatever reason, this was simply what the Lord had for us this year. It’s disappointing, but were not finished… the fall is coming.”
Two weeks off and then summer training begins. The end of the track season only marks the beginning of the next. “The fall is coming.” Get ready for an exciting season of Mustang Cross Country.
To read a full recap of the third day by the NAIA, click here.