Initially published in July 1, 2016 edition of The Tribune Democrat
By Shawn Curtis
Bishop McCort graduate Jim Spisak has covered a lot of distance to be a part of Friday’s United States Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon.
If the next 10 kilometers go Spisak’s way, his summer travel itinerary could involve a trip to Rio de Janeiro.
The 2009 alumnus of Bishop McCort Catholic High School will be competing in the 10,000-meter run with a shot at the Rio Games on the line. Spisak, who competed collegiately at Duquesne, will be representing New England Distance – a collection of runners based in Rhode Island aspiring to represent the United States in international competition. Saucony – a maker of running shoes and apparel – will also be represented by Spisak.
Coverage of Friday’s trials will air at 9 p.m. on NBC.
Spisak still holds track and field program records at Bishop McCort in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs along with the cross country squad’s 5,000-meter record.
He notes that competing in Eugene – the same town where running folk legend Steve Prefontaine competed as a collegian – gives the atmosphere of the event a special vibe.
“It’s really cool,” Spisak said. “Being out here the last three years for different reasons, you can see how much the town loves distance running, and track and field in general. You can see how alive this city is for this event.
You can feel the history and the aura of it. This is the mecca of distance running in the States.”
Spisak will be in an Olympic trials field of 27 runners, according to a list provided online by USA Track and Field.
To reach Rio, Spisak would have to finish in the top three 10,000-meter runners along with hitting the Olympic standard of 28 minutes flat.
“That will be a tall task,” Spisak said with a chuckle. “Making the top three is very difficult. Just the way my training has gone, but I’m looking forward to mixing it up and doing the best I can.”
Spisak qualified for the Eugene trials by finishing the 10,000-meter run in 28:20 at the 2015 Payton Jordan Invitational at Stanford University.
“It’s an interesting position that I’m in, going into the race. I’m excited to be out here and getting ready to race,” Spisak said. “It’s something that over the last few years I decided to continue running after college to get qualified and get out here. I’m definitely excited to mix it up. It’s really the biggest track meet in the States every four years.
“Because of a few, not physical injuries, but just mental things, I missed a lot of training in April and May, so my fitness isn’t where I want it to be going into the race. But that said, I can’t change what happened the last couple of months and I’m here and ready to go.”