Just over a year ago, Lars Sorom ’26 had never run the 800m. Last weekend he was crowned as a NESCAC Champion and is on the cusp of qualifying for the NCAA Division III Men’s Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
At the NESCAC Championships in New London, Conn. last Saturday, Sorom won the 800m with a time of 1:55.51 and was also a member of the 4x800m team that placed fifth.
Sorom came into the event having won his last three races in the 800m and already holding the fastest time in the conference after running a personal best of 1:51.25 at the Carla Coffey Invitational, hosted by Smith College in April. While breaking his previous record by a large margin was exciting, Sorom felt the added pressure of his early season success going into NESCACs last weekend.
“Going into the NESCAC meet, I was seeded first by around a second, which is always kind of daunting because people know you’re fast,” Sorom said. “You have a target on your back.”
Although living up to high expectations proved not to be an issue at NESCACs, Sorom had struggled earlier this winter at the Maine State Indoor Championships at Bates College, where he had failed to hold seed against a lower ranked competition.
“I was hoping to win and ended up getting second.… I was seeded pretty far in front of the next guy. That was a bit of a let down, but it was still a good race, and second as a [first year] is nothing to scoff at,” he said.
Working on getting in the right mindset before races was a large part of what Sorom has focused on this season, especially after a successful season last year.
“My senior year of high school, I had kind of a breakout season and ran faster than [my] expectations, so each meet was exciting because I was running faster and faster,” he said. “So this year, I had to reset the bar in terms of what I was aiming for. [I worked] on not putting too much pressure on myself and acknowledging that there’s still [the outdoor season and] there’s still more races to run.”
Although he began running competitively in eighth grade, Sorom focused primarily on longer distance events, such as the 1600m, throughout most of high school. When in his first 800m appearance Sorom recorded a top-ten time in his home state of Washington, he quickly shifted his focus to the shorter-distance event.
“I think the 800m just works well for my physicality and my aerobic capacity. I wouldn’t even say it’s my favorite race, but it’s fun to run it fast,” Sorom said.
Because Sorom found success so late in his high school career, his recruiting process looked a little different than most other athletes. Without a guaranteed spot on a team, Sorom prioritized finding the right school and not just looking at the track and field program.
“I was picking a school for the school and the track team came second,” he said. “So it’s exciting that the track team has worked out so well. But if track hadn’t worked out, and I wasn’t as successful, I would still be having an amazing time at Bowdoin. I think that’s important as an athlete, especially in DIII.”
The track and field team has also provided Sorom with a sense of community. Even though being a middle-distance runner means he often follows his own training program, getting to spend time with his teammates, especially outside of practice and competitions, has been incredibly important to him.
“It’s been really cool to get to know people and find some really good friendships. If anything, they’re stronger because I don’t train with them every day. [My teammates] are really good friends outside of track, too,” Sorom said.
Looking ahead, Sorom has his eyes set on competing at NCAAs. The top twenty times in DIII typically qualify, and Sorom currently sits at 19th. However, he expects that his ranking may fall in the coming weeks.
“When I ran [my best time] it was 10th in the nation. But at this point it’s 19th, and so I’ll continue to fall as people run faster,” he said. “My goal is in two weeks to run a quick enough time to clinch my spot.”
Sorom plans to compete next at the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association (NEICAAA) Open New England Championship in Boston, Mass. on May 12-13.