Prior to last week neither Daniel Taylor nor Andrew Bowen of the Sandhills Community College track and field team had ever competed in a race as long as 10,000 meters.
Circling the oval at Mount Olive's Trojan Challenge 25 times, Taylor finished third and Bowen sixth with times that also qualified them for the NJCAA Division III National Championships in that event in May.
Contributing almost half of the points to the Flyer men's sixth place finish as a team was Tyrese Kelly who took first in the triple jump, fourth in the long jump and seventh in the high jump.
Also for the Flyers, John Grimm finished 14th in the 1,500 meter run with a time that was within four seconds of qualifying for the national meet.
Mount Olive won the team title in the field of 12 teams that included one other junior college (Louisburg).
"We really weren't looking for that because we only took nine guys down there," Coach Jef Moody said on Monday about finishing in the top half of the teams.
The next meet for the Flyer men and women is the Aggie Invitational at North Carolina A & T in Greensboro on April 13-14. Alex Worley will be competing in the decathlon at High Point University this weekend. Emily Doorey of the Lady Flyers will be there too as a contestant in the heptathlon.
"I'm really happy about where we are right now," the coach said. "The key is that they are working hard. Everybody's legs are kind of beat up from the last two weeks so we are calling this a recovery week.
"We'll get back to work next week and after that we'll head for A & T. We have to keep everybody healthy."
Based on their times at Mount Olive, and the winning time at last year's NJCAA meet, Moody thinks Taylor and Bowen have a chance to finish 1-2 in the 10,000 at the nationals in Utica, N.Y. Since the 10,000 and 5,000 are run a day apart, they could compete in both races.
The runner-up at the NJCAA Division III Cross Country Championships last fall, Taylor's time in the 5,000m last week at UNC-Pembroke would have been good enough to win last year's race at the nationals for that distance.
"Daniel is flat out rolling right now so I'm reeling him in this week," Moody said. "We don't want the legs to go dead from racing and working too hard. If I asked him to run 100 miles a week he could do it, but we won't do that."
Taylor was initially nervous about the 10,000. Now he's thinking about running in a half-marathon in the fall.
"I think its Coach Moody's training regimen," Taylor said of his progress since his high school days at Union Pines. "He's got me doing mileage I never even got close to in high school. I had never run 10 miles and now I do that every day.
"The training has been great, but the biggest part is he's helped with the mental attitude especially for a 10,000. There is no way I would be doing these times if I wasn't running for Coach Moody."
Bowen, a Hoke County High School grad, second guessed himself for starting out too fast in the 5,000m race the week before at UNC-Pembroke when he finished 27th. He told his coach he wasn't going to make the same mistake in his first crack at 10,000.
"When coach talked to me about doing the 5,000 and 10,000 I was thinking that's a big pill to swallow," he said. "He told me to just trust him and as long as I worked hard it was going to come naturally. It shocked me that I've been able to handle both."
Kelly was one of those not working out at all on Monday because of some soreness in his legs. His results in the first two meets have been consistent with his jumps for Pinecrest High School at last year's state meet where he won both the long jump and triple jump and placed 10th in the high jump. He has a personal best of 6-foot-6 in the latter event.
He has caught the attention of coaches from the four-year colleges at the first two meets.
"In high school I was jumping 48 feet in the triple jump and 23 in the long jump at a consistent rate," he said. "At A&T I plan to go to 50 feet and 24 feet."
While the rest of the team was easing off for a week, Worley and Doorey were working hard in preparation for their demanding events.
The 10 events in the decathlon are: 100m, 110m hurdles, 400m, 1,500m, long jump, high jump, shot put, discus, javelin and pole vault.
Team standings: 1. Mount Olive 250, 2. UNC-Pembroke 115, 3. Mary Washington 97, 4.Worcester State 62, 5. Barton 52.5, 6. Sandhills CC 33.5, T7. Methodist 32, T7 Bowie State 32, 9. Livingstone 25, 10. Campbell 19.5, 11. Louisburg 17.5, 12. St. Andrews 2.
SCC Placers at Mount Olive - Kelly – 1st triple jump (14.46m*), 4th long jump (6.56m*); 7th high jump (1.83m); Taylor – 3rd 10,000m (31.52.91); Bowen 6th10,000m (32:52.43); Lawrence McGilvary, Isaiah McGilvary, Jordan Anneheim, Daniel Hagen –2nd 4 X 400, relay (3:47.64);
SCC National qualifiers through first two meets – Kelly – triple jump, long jump, high jump; Taylor – 5,000m, 10,000m; Bowen – 10,000m;