Hackett, Johnson go the distance in 5,000 meter

The 5,000 meter-race was popular this weekend with sophomore Jack Hackett and junior Olivia Johnson. Johnson won the 5,000 at the Southern Illinois Spring Classic. Hackett recorded the school’s sixth best performance in his first ever 5,000.

Hackett, who typically runs the mile, finished seventh (14:33.88) in his first ever 5,000 meter-race at the Stanford Invitational. The performance was only .1 seconds away from the fifth best 5,000 meter-race in school history.

“That’s quite an opener,” coach Bert Rogers said of Hackett’s first 5,000. “Usually you’d expect a learning curve so this performance suggests that we can expect him to run even faster in the future.”

Hackett said the performance went well and was everything he had prepared for.

Much like senior Jayne Grebinski last week — who competed in the 1,500 meter-race for the first and most likely last time this year last weekend — it doesn’t appear likely that Hackett will compete in the 5,000 again this season. Hackett’s season will be more focused on the mile, not to his dismay.

“The mile has always had a special place in my heart,” Hackett said.

Hackett said the 5,000 will be a part of his future and in order to get better, it will come down to just spending more time focusing on it.

“I just need to get more miles under my legs,” Hackett said. “I need to get an extra thousand miles under my legs and that’s when the improvement will come.”

While Hackett was in California, Johnson was in Carbondale, Ill. and recorded her victory in the 5,000, which helped the women finish third in a six-team field. The men’s team also placed third out of six competitors. Johnson finished in 17:25.11, which was 22.71 seconds — a distance of about 100 meters according to Rogers — ahead of the second place finisher.

Like Hackett, Johnson’s specialty isn’t the 5,000. Her forte is the 1,500 meter-race but the reasoning behind running the 5,000 was simply to shake things up.

“It’s not a long season but at the same time to try to pound that same race every weekend can be frustrating if you’re not running faster every weekend,” Johnson said. “To switch things up and have success in another event is refreshing.”

Rogers said Johnson can have even more success in the future because she had limited athletes pushing her to do even better. She had to push herself to run her fastest. But if she were in a larger field with more people pushing her, Rogers said the time should improve.

Improvement is what every athlete aspires for and Johnson looked at herself in the mirror and made some changes of her own to become better: she changed up her diet. She put too much emphasis on carbohydrates and less on fats and proteins.

“It’s been huge for my recovery time and what my body can handle,” Johnson said. “I’ve basically become like a new runner.”

Both runners are on the cross country team, which Rogers said helped them both to be successful at the 5,000. They had the preparation to run the distance but just never did it on a track.