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Vol. LXV, No. 21
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
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FAST EDDY: Princeton University senior men’s track star Mike Eddy heads to the tape in a race this spring. Eddy, a star quarter-miler and a member of Princeton’s record-setting 4 x 400 relay quartet, will be competing in the NCAA East Regional at Indiana University this weekend.

PU Quarter-Miler Eddy Heading Into Homestretch, Looking to Come Up Big at NCAA Regional Meet

Bill Alden

It came out of the blue and it changed the course of Mike Eddy’s life.

“I got a letter at the tail end of sophomore year and the summer before junior year from the Princeton track coach,” said Eddy, a native of Asheboro, N.C. “Getting that letter was the first time I thought about running in college.”

Inspired by such prospects, Eddy went on to win North Carolina state championships in the 500 indoors and the 400 outdoors as a senior.

Eddy’s college choice came down to the Naval Academy and Princeton, and he ended up at the latter after being disqualified for military service when it was discovered that he was colorblind.

For Eddy, the Navy’s loss was his gain. “I am from a small town in North Carolina and Princeton feels like home,” said Eddy.

“It is not overwhelming and I loved the guys on the track team; they are some of the best and most interesting people I have ever met. That was the strongest selling point for Princeton.”

Over the last four years, Eddy has developed into one of the strongest quarter-milers in program history, winning Ivy League Heptagonal titles in the indoor 500 and outdoor 400 together with the 4x400 relay, both indoor and outdoor.

This weekend, senior star Eddy will look to extend his career as he competes in the 400 and 4x 400 relay at the NCAA East Regional at Indiana University.

While Eddy has developed a comfort level at Princeton, he struggled at first in adjusting to the intensity of the heavier training load.

“The workouts we do at college were more than just a step up from high,” said Eddy. “After practices early on, I was ready to dive into bed at 8 because I was so tired.”

Eddy, though, dove into competition, breaking though with a victory in the Heps indoor 500 as a freshman.

“It was nice to do well in indoor Heps; that is when college track became serious for me,” said Eddy, who went on to win two more titles in the 500. “I hadn’t competed that well before the Heps.”

That success helped Eddy hone his mental approach to competing against his Ivy League foes.

“I developed one of my philosophies from there,” said Eddy. “Since we see the same guys a lot, I want to compete at the highest level every time we see these guys. Track is a psychological sport; you want them coming on the track thinking they can’t beat me.”

In addition to his three titles at indoor 500, Eddy has won two Heps titles in the 400 and has been part of five 4 x 400 league champions.

The relay has become a favorite event for Eddy, who teamed with Austin Hollimon, Russell Dinkins and Tom Hopkins in a meet last month in Gainesville, Fla. to set a program and Ivy League record of 3:07.57.

“You are part of a team; the other three guys are depending on you,” said Eddy. “You always go faster than when you run alone. In the relay, runners are pushing themselves beyond their limits.”

In reflecting on the quartet’s record-setting performance in Florida, Eddy saw it as a fortunate confluence of several factors.

“The three of us had already been running together,” said Eddy, referring to junior Hollimon, sophomore Dinkins, and himself.

“The freshman, Tom Hopkins, is a hell of an athlete; he was that missing extra piece The weather was perfect that day, it was 75 degrees and no wind. I had a good leg. The team on the outside went out fast and they pulled me through. It didn’t feel that different. I attribute it to good competition and good weather.”

Eddy has been proud to have emerged as a team leader for the Tigers.

“Being captain of the Princeton track team is the greatest honor that I have ever had,” asserted Eddy.

“I was surprised to be elected as a junior. I didn’t change too much; I just tried to keep pushing hard to compete at the highest level.”

While Eddy acknowledges that the time he devoted on his senior thesis and upper level courses has kept him from competing at his best this spring, he is looking to step up at the regional meet.

“I think now that I have been out of school for a while, sleeping, eating, and training, this is the first time where I feel I can focus on track,” said Eddy, who will be joined at the regional meet by 10 other teammates in addition to his relay partners.

“At the regional, the top 12 teams go through to nationals. Our goal is to go to nationals. I snuck into the regionals with a 47.02, maybe I can do something there.”

No matter what Eddy does at the meet, he is happy that he acted upon that letter he got out of the blue from Princeton.

“I have learned so much from the guys; I have tried to incorporate the best things I have learned from each of the guys,” said Eddy, a geology major who will be heading to a doctoral program at MIT after graduating from Princeton.

“You still have a lot of growing up to do when you are 18 and coming to college. You think you know it all and your parents aren’t there. l looked up to the older guys; it was a great group of guys to learn from. I had mentors and they molded me.”

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