An Eyelash from a National Titleby Brent Harris • March 12, 2011
Wabash sophomore Jake Waterman and Amherst junior Ben Scheetz sprinted toward the finish line in the 800-meter dash stride for stride over the final 50 meters. Scheetz crossed 6/1000 of a second before Waterman to take the title at the 2011 NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championship Meet.
View photos from the race here.
"For about 795 meters Jake ran a very, very strategic race," Assistant Coach Roger Busch said. "Jake told me he got a little too cocky on the last lap. It was nearly the perfect race. He thought he had it won. He said he couldn't hear the other runner's footsteps, so he let up at the end. I think he learned a good lesson tonight on how to finish a race.
"This will propel him to the next level in terms of building his desire to win and to continue to develop the concentration to perform at a very high level in Division III and possibly beyond that. I think Jake Waterman will only continue to get better and better."
Waterman started strong, settling in behind Emmanuel Bofa, who one night earlier had posted the fastest qualifying time by finishing in 1:52.87 to set a new Capital University Fieldhouse record. Bofa led the first two laps before Waterman made his move coming back to the finish line at the start of the third circuit.
Taking the lead, Waterman continued to work the pace toward a new fieldhouse record while leaving all but Scheetz, Bofa, Tyler Newhook from Messiah, and Andrew Wells from Chicago in the distance. As the lead pack cleared the final turn heading toward the finish line, Waterman still had the lead with Scheetz closing quickly. The Amherst junior made his final lean right at the finish line to edge Waterman out of the national title, finishing in 1:51.26. Waterman crossed the line with a time of 1:51.32.
"I followed the strategy the coaches and I talked about," Waterman said. "I just got too cocky on the last lap and kind of squandered everything that led up to that last lap.
"The same lesson we were taught in middle school. You run through the line until the race is done. Sometimes you have to learn the same lessons over again until they really set in."
"When you look at Jake you realize he has the talent that most seniors show, but he's only a sophomore," Head Coach Clyde Morgan said. "This is a great learning experience for him. He's hungry. What this did tonight is make him more confident. All you do now is move on to the outdoor season and prepare for the nationals again. That's the beauty of our sport. You get to opportunities to be a national champion."
Waterman's second place finish equals the same finish by Geoff Lambert at the 2007 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship meet. Waterman is the first two-time indoor track and field All-American in Wabash history. He earned All-America honors last year along with teammates Kevin McCarthy and Emmanuel Aouad.