TERRE HAUTE, IND. John Mickowski’s prestigious senior cross country campaign came to a heartbreaking conclusion on Monday afternoon at the NCAA National Cross Country Championships at Indiana State University in Terre Haute. Mickowski was tripped and trampled during the second mile of the race, knocking him out of contention for an All-America finish. The resilient senior recovered from the fall to finish the 10k race in 32:19.
“I’m feeling just heartbroken right now,” said Mickowski after the race. “I’m not using it as an excuse. This is cross country and it happens in races. It’s just part of racing but I felt like I could have been up there today.”
Mickowski, who entered the national meet with hopes of earning All-America honors (top-25), was in perfect position at the one-mile mark running on the inside of the course near 20th position and feeling comfortable.
“We went through the mile in about 4:35 and I felt great. It was the best I felt at the start of a race all season,” said Mickowski.
As runners approached the two-mile mark on the course, Mickowski tangled legs with another runner and was knocked to the ground and stepped on as other runners tried to avoid falling.
“Two guys just crossed in front of me and I fell to my knees. I tried to get up quick but another runner behind me ran his knee into my shoulder and pushed me flat onto my stomach and then two other kids fell next to me. The official stepped in and made us stay down until the pack all ran by. I got up after the pack had passed but I was on the ground for about 30 seconds.”
“He’s got a lot of heart,” said head coach Jerry Quiller. “We’re all sad that his experience had to end like this but we give him a lot of credit for getting up and finishing like that. He knows this sort of thing happens and he will bounce back. We’re looking for big things out of him this track season.”
Mickowski ended up in 207th-place with a time of 32:19, over two minutes off the time he ran last weekend at Regionals and his personal best time of 30:07.
Mickowski turned heads all season long with one of the best senior seasons by an Army runner in school history. The Mukwonago, Wisconsin, native led the team all season long and earned numerous honors throughout the season. Mickowski won the annual Army-Navy dual meet in convincing fashion and followed that performance with a third-place finish at the Patriot League Championships, earning first team All-Conference honors. He was named the Army Athletic Association “Athlete of the Week” for both of those performances. Mickowski would top that in his next race by earning a trip to the national meet with a seventh-place finish in the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships and picking up his third AAA weekly honor in as many weeks. No other cross country runner in Army history has earned three weekly awards in the same season.
Although disappointed following the final race of his cross country career, Mickowski is already optimistic about the future. Only two runners in school history have broken 4:00 in the mile and Mickowski is excited about the chance to add his name to the list.
“I’ll bounce back and be ready for track,” said Mickowski after reflecting on his last cross country race. “I’m ready for big things on the track.”
This season marked the first year that the NCAA Cross Country Championships were televised live, as CSTV broadcast the event to national television audiences.
The 2007 cross country season is officially complete. The Army men’s team wrapped up the season with a second-place finish in the IC4A Championships while the Army women closed out the year with a third-place finish in the ECAC Championships.