CHAMPAIGN, Ill- As he strode solo through the U of I Athletic Complex and toward the Demirjian Park during the early morning hours, University of Illinois distance running star from nearby Oakwood Jon Davis had the look of a confident lion on a hunting prowl. He had a smile on his face and looked refreshed. It was less than 24 hours on Saturday that he christened the Gary Wieneke Track with a 1500m preliminary heat #2 win in 3:42.29.
When asked about his early-bird status, Davis pondered: "since I have access to the facility this early, I figured I come and relax a bit before everyone gets here."
Already the indoor mile school record holder (3:58.06), the confidence level was no doubt high with a career-best 3:39.85 this season to boot.
As the 12 man field got underway, the massive pack looked around and immediately went into a stalemate. Big 10 1500m racing on the Men's side has adopted a tradition of seeing who can run the slowest place for 700m and then present an all-out kick fest to win.
The time at approximately 800m was 2:18.1 (3 seconds slower than the women's final) and worthy of a standing ovation of boos. However, the pace would pick up significantly with Davis leading Nick Foster of Michigan and a fleet of others. There were some trips, pushing, and jostling as the final lap bell sounded.
It was an all-out affair as Davis, Foster, and Tom Dodd of Michigan are in an all-out sprint. Davis' sixth gear was a little more potent than Foster's, Dodd's (who tripped and fell), and the entire field. That's what a 52.1 last lap will get you- a hearty victory in 3:51.55. Davis earned his first outdoor title and a continued smile that is sure to last quite awhile.