By Evan Wheaton
Heading into the John Thomas Terrier Classic, Tyler Hansen didn’t want to think about it.
Just push it out of sight, out of mind.
He came up just short last year. 0.09 of a second short.
Readying himself on the 200-meter banked track inside Boston University, Hansen knew this chance was as good as any.
And he hit the ground running.
Springfield College’s history books were rewritten on Jan. 24 as Hansen finished the indoor 200-meter in 21.76 seconds, besting Steve Headley’s then school record of 21.82.
“I knew I was pretty close before we raced so when I looked up and saw the time I knew I had broken it,” Hansen said. “It meant a lot to me because I had to race against Steve Headley before when he came and ran unattached at one of our meets. It was a great feeling to finally break one of those records of his.”
Headley set the record in 2010 and he competed for the Commonwealth Games for Barbados in the same year. A two-time NCAA Division III champion in the 100-meter dash, Headley went on to have a notable track and field career, making an appearance on the cover of the June 8 edition of Sports Illustrated and qualifying for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“He (Headley) worked night and day, literally,” said Headley’s father, Samuel. “He worked hard, by the grace of God, to achieve what he had achieved.”
Samuel is a clinical exercise physiologist and professor in the department of Exercise Science and Athletic Training at Springfield College.
With a family background of track and field, Samuel helped his son pursue the sport.
“As a parent, I can tell you that when you see your children – different children have different strengths. And as a parent, my responsibility was and is to help support them and facilitate whatever they’re good at (and) make sure they have the resources they need to succeed.”
Having Samuel as a professor last year, Hansen bonded with him.
“We always joked, because he knew I was kind of close last year, he knew that I had raced his son before and we were able to talk track together,” Hansen said.
Samuel knew that Hansen was close to beating his son’s record, and always encouraged him to do so. When Hansen came up less than a tenth of a second short, he remained optimistic.
“It was kind of disappointing, but I knew I still had another year to attempt it. I still had a lot of time,” Hansen said.
The main focus this time around during Hansen’s senior year was to not dwell on the record.
“Honestly I was pretty nervous the entire week,” he said. “I tried not to think about it and it just kept coming up, people kept mentioning it, like, ‘Oh, you’re going to try and break that record this weekend,’ but I just tried to kind of brush it under the rug and run my race. “
Like an equally balanced scale, there was enough confidence to match the nervousness.
As the 200-meter started and the runners took off, Hansen was in his element.
“With experience, you know when you feel good,” he said. “You know how to run on certain tracks.”
This wasn’t the 200-meter flat track at Springfield. Finding his footing on the 200-meter banked, Hansen flashed by with 0.06 to spare.
It was finally his.
Breath after breath of relief, Hansen knew he accomplished more than one goal.
“I was more so worried about getting up higher in the national rankings than breaking the record, and that worked out pretty well to be able to do both.”
Since setting the new record and subsequently finishing first for the indoor 200-meter, Hansen has been sitting at no. 1 in the D-III national rankings.
From 22.73 his freshman year to 22.52 his sophomore year, along with his upperclassmen campaigns, he’s set a personal best every year in his collegiate career for the indoor 200-meter.
With improvement year in and year out with the indoor 200-meter, Hansen has been consistently dominant in the event over the years.
“I’ve come into this year stronger than I was last year, obviously faster than I was last year, so I think there’s a good chance for me to even break it again.”
Mike Brown, the record holder of the indoor pentathlon, long jump, and high jump, has consistently supported Hansen throughout his collegiate career. And with Headley still holding the indoor 60-meter at 6.86 from 2008, Hansen feels honored to have a place among them in the indoor record books.
“Just being able to be in that same sentence as Steve Headley, Mike Brown, and a few other record holders is just amazing.”
With the Dave Hemery Valentine’s Invitational looming this weekend, Hansen will find himself right back at Boston University.
And one thing is for certain.
When he takes to the track again he’ll feel comfortable. The nervousness from before will be replaced with a different feeling.
Determination to try and break his own record will fuel him as he steps back onto that 200-meter banked track. It’ll feel just right underneath his shoes – not like the flat one in the Fieldhouse.
And he’ll be ready to have another run at the record books.
Featured photo courtesy Springfield Athletics