Published DateBELMONT — Joe Boles, a Belmont High School junior, said he felt as though someone had pinned a target to the back of his shirt when he approached the starting line for the 1,000 meter race during the NHIAA Division II Indoor Track Championship, held on Saturday in Dartmouth College's Leverone Field House. With the fastest qualifying time among the field of runners, Boles lined up in the first lane and knew all the other runners would be placing him in their sights.
"I was a little nervous," Boles said about the moments prior to the race. Indeed, the other runners took their shots once the starter's pistol fired. Souhegan's Nathan Kittredge jumped out in front of Boles as soon as the race began, and after the first corner of the second lap, another runner had passed Boles. But Boles was just biding his time, employing his usual race strategy. "I usually have a strong kick at the end. I stay relaxed and focused, and know when I'm going to kick."
Boles fought his way back into second place – and striking distance – in the third lap. Then, as the leading Kittredge crossed the starting line to begin the final circumference of the track, the kid from Canterbury unleashed his "kick," shooting past Kittredge as though fired out of a slingshot. The final lap was a sprint, as other runners followed the same strategy and dashed toward the finish line. None would catch Boles, though, who completed the race in 2:37.38.
His time was not only better than the second place Sean Munnelly of Campbell – Kittredge held on for third – it was also faster than Pinkerton's Chris Poggi, whose time of 2:37.73 won the Division I race
also held that day. The state record for the event stands at 2:27.38, set by Zachary Wright in 1994.
Boles's finish set a new record for his school, eclipsing a mark he had set himself last season. The performance was also strong enough qualify him for the New England championships, though he thinks he'll decline the invitation to keep his focus on another goal.
The New England championships won't be held for another month, in order to accommodate the later indoor track seasons of southern New England states. Were Boles to take part, he'd have to train for the next four weeks to keep himself in shape. That's four weeks of risking injury, and Boles has already learned his lesson about pushing his body too hard.
Last year, Boles, who also plays soccer and runs spring track, was afflicted with a chronic shin injury after his indoor track season concluded. The injury sidelined him for much of the spring track season, and he wants to avoid making the same mistake this year.
In fact, he began to feel the tell-tale twinge of pain from his shins at the start of the recent indoor track season. Because he did the right thing, and switched from running to an exercise bike for a period of time, he was able to come back and take the state title for the 1,000 meter. "I realized that if I was going to succeed this season, I was going to have to train smarter and healthier."
He's hoping that a month off from running will yield similar success come the spring. Boles has an ambitious goal of qualifying for the New England championships in the 800 meter event. Last year, his best time in that event was 2:01. This year, he wants to set a pace faster than two minutes. For reference, the state record for the 800 meter event is 1:50.16, set by Russell Brown in 2003. If he can come close to that mark, Boles had better get used to feeling that target on his back.