On Saturday at the New England Open Meet held at Boston University, senior Coby Horowitz broke the NCAA D-III Indoor Track and Field mile record, which stood for 17 years. Horowitz ran the event at 4:00.41, 54 hundredths of a second faster than Haverford’s Karl Paranya achieved at the Commonwealth Invitational in 1997. Later that year Paranya became the first D-III runner to break the 4-minute mark, albeit on Haverford’s outdoor track and while being paced by Olympic gold-medalist Marcus O’Sullivan.
According to Horowitz, he knew ahead of time the potential this race had for him.
“I went in knowing this would be one of the meets where I’d try and go as close to 4:00 as possible,” said Horowitz. “Some of the other guys out there were willing to try as well, which was really nice; I didn’t have to lead the whole thing. [Wesley Gallagher] from Northeastern said that he would take out the first 400, which made my life easier.”
Pacing for part of the race is a practice common amongst teammates, but having an opponent agree to pace for another team is unusual. Gallagher, a sophomore, finished the race in third place with his own personal record of 4:02.57.
“Five minutes before the race—I had raced [Gallagher] this summer, so we knew each other—he came over and was like ‘What are you doing today?’” said Horowitz. “And I was like ‘Tryna see how fast I can go.’ He said he was doing the same, so he offered to take out the first 400.”
On February 10, Horowitz was named the D-III National Athlete of the Week by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for breaking the school record and running the fastest D-III mile in a decade with a time of 4:02.12. His time was the fourth fastest indoor time ever recorded in D-III.
A 10-time All American, Horowitz has been named the Orient’s Athlete of the Season twice and Athlete of the Week four times, and has also shattered seven school records for indoor and outdoor track over the past four years. In addition to a mile record that could stand for a long, long time, Horowitz has school marks in the two mile, 1000-meter, 1000 flat-track, distance medley, 1500-meter and 5000-meter. With so many records under his belt, Horowitz said he was fully aware of where he needed to be to secure one in the mile.
“I knew the national record and the NESCAC record and the New England record,” he said. “[My goal was] to get as close to 4:01 as possible. I knew if I was in that range I’d be able to get underneath [the record].”
Horowitz has three official meets left in his indoor collegiate career before the outdoor season begins in early April. His mile time from three weeks ago qualified him to run at the D-III Nationals in Lincoln, Nebraska on March 14. According to Horowitz, it’s harder to run as fast a time at a highly-competitive tournament like Nationals, because the racers are running to win--not to secure the best times.
“This was one of the meets where, at least for us, it wasn’t about scoring points, but on getting a fast time,” he said. “There’s a different mindset that makes this a different type of race.”
Less than half a second shy of breaking the coveted four-minute mark, Horowitz said it’s still his goal to improve his time.
“Everyone’s dream is to go sub-four,” Horowitz said. “So once you can tell that you’re gonna be close, you try to put it all out there. I came up a little bit short today, but hopefully I’ll get another chance or two.”