Breaking school records in the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter distances his freshman season wasn’t enough for Eric Causey, who is now the first men’s cross country runner ever to represent USF at the NCAA Division I Championships.
Causey, a sophomore from Encinitas, Calif., finished 11th in the NCAA West Regionals in Sacramento on Friday, Nov. 15. He completed the 10,000-kilometer course (6.2 miles) in 29:56, despite feeling ill on race day and the five days beforehand. As one of the top four finishers from a non-qualifying team, Causey earned an individual invitation to the national championship race in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 23.
It wasn’t the best time to get sick, but the resilient 20-year-old didn’t let it affect his attitude toward what could have been his last race of the season, had he not done as well as he did.
“The sickness definitely made the race a lot more challenging than I had thought it would be, but I kept a very positive view on it and just accepted the given situation and
knew I would give it my best,” Causey said. “I felt like I was breathing in little needles because of how [the dry weather] felt on the back of my throat. [But] I never questioned my potential and I knew that I was going to leave it all out on the course.”
Causey will be the first male Don to ever compete in the national race, and is the first individual qualifier from USF. The women have qualified as a team for the past three years.
“I always knew it was in reach, whether this year or in the future, so when I found out there was a huge sense of satisfaction knowing I met one of my big goals for this year,” Causey said. “I feel very honored to get to compete with all the top runners in the nation and I’m planning on this pesky cold to be gone by the time of the race!”
As a team, USF finished 16th overall out of the 27 teams in the West Region to complete their season. After Causey, redshirt junior Adam Smith was the next Don to cross the finish line, coming in at 32:05. He was followed by junior Jarrett Moore, senior Jimmy McManus and sophomore Nick Hicks who came in all within three seconds of each other. Freshman Tom Bradley and senior Gustavo Mena rounded out the Dons squad for the day. While Causey prepares for the national race, the rest of the Dons look ahead to the upcoming track and field season in the spring.
Photo courtesy of Dons Athletics