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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Kramer misses All-American mark at NCAAs, looks for redemption in outdoor season

Published: March 22, 2013
Section: Sports

For Alex Kramer ’13, the moment had finally come. Surrounded by the top runners in the division, he was preparing to run the race of his life at the NCAA Division III track and field Championships. Making a shot at achieving an All-American title, Kramer admits that the only thing going through his mind moments before the gun fired was, “pure excitement.”

The runner from Andover, Mass., continued to explain that what he was thinking is hard to put into words.

“There’s always kind of a fine line between being nervous and excited. I was just excited to be there and I felt great warming up, which is always a good sign,” Kramer said.

Although he felt good going into the race, Kramer missed the cutoff for the final by a mere three-tenths of a second and finished in 12th place. In the first heat, the Brandeis runner, alongside six competitors, assumed a comfortable position in the back on the last lap. The leader for most of the mile, Tully Hannan ’14 from Bates College, lost his grip on the last lap as the pack caught up to him and Dan Sullivan ’14 of University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point flew past him to win the heat with a time of 4:16.39.

Kramer came in sixth place out of seven runners, with a time of 4:16.90, a few seconds slower than his personal best and qualifying time of 4:12.66, which he achieved a week before NCAAs at the Tufts University Last Chance meet.

The second heat, which included six runners, proved to exhibit faster qualifying times than the first heat. Hitting the half-mile mark at 2:09, the pack maintained a steady pace until Bowdoin College junior Colby Horowitz made a late surge to the finish line, forcing the other runners to speed up in the late stages of the race. The outcome caused Kramer to lose the 10th qualifying spot in the finals to Hannan by a tight 0.32 seconds.

Sullivan, winner of the first heat, went on to win the finals with a time of 4:07.03, while Hannan came in ninth place with a time of 4:12.93.

Kramer confesses that he expected to perform a lot better in the race. He mentioned that in most races, it is much easier for him to maintain an even pace and then finish fast. But the other racers in the preliminary heat had a much quicker half-mile time, making it more difficult for him to break away from the pack toward the end.

“It was pretty disappointing. The race itself didn’t go as I was hoping, but I still have outdoor track, so hopefully I will get some redemption,” he said.

As for his missed opportunity at gaining the All-American label of which he longingly dreamed, Kramer is quick to place his confidence on the outdoor track season. After all, the Brandeis senior, who has been running competitively for eight years and was named the New England Champion in the mile in high school, understands the importance of maintaining a professional attitude and looking forward to the future.

“I had a pretty good high school career. I ran the mile and the two-mile races at pretty competitive times, but my personal best time that I achieved this year was about 10 seconds faster than I had ever run in high school,” Kramer said.

Even 24 hours before a race, Kramer confides that it is absolutely necessary to keep a rigorous agenda to prepare for what the next day will bring. After eating many carbs and getting enough sleep, he says that it is important to wake up at least four hours before the race, which is sometimes hard for him as he is “not a morning person at all.”

The next step is going for a light 10-minute jog to get his muscles going and then eating his favorite pre-race breakfast: a “ridiculous amount of coffee and oatmeal. It’s always very difficult to eat the morning of a race because you have a nervous feeling and it’s always hard for me to eat a lot,” he said.

When asked if he thought of anything when he’s racing, Kramer answered, “Not really. But it’s always kind of this weird mental state where you’re in pretty excruciating pain but really focused at the same time.”

His favorite race of the indoor season occurred during the UAA Championships, where he finally came in first place in the mile run—after many tries in previous years—with a time of 4:20.23, while his buddy and teammate, Mik Kern ’13, followed him in second place.

So what’s next for Kramer? Beyond college, he remains undecided, but considers going to law school as an option and is in the process of applying to paralegal jobs as well as Teach For America.

But the first thing on Kramer’s mind is the outdoor season. He also intends to set another goal for himself after making it to the NCAA Championship. And this time, he says, he has the right training going into the season to make it again.

“Missing the final in the indoor season has really motivated me to get back there. If anything, it showed me that I can compete with the best guys out there, rather than discourage me. Getting there is the most important thing, and then actually being an All-American would be the biggest goal for me,” Kramer said.