How Iliass Aouani broke the ACC 10k record

first_img Published on April 17, 2019 at 12:13 am Contact Alex: [email protected] | @alexhamer8 Facebook Twitter Google+ Iliass Aouani made his move. Just like he had discussed with head coach Brien Bell before the race, the strategy they had devised was working. At the Atlantic Coast Conference Indoor Championship, Aouani edged ahead of Virginia Tech’s Peter Seufer as the runners entered the final 100 meters of the 3,000-meter race after following Seufer in second for much of the race, just as Aouani and Bell had planned. Aouani was confident he would win. In those last 100 meters, Aouani started out in the lead, but was soon passed by Seufer. Aouani noticed Seufer had kicked into another gear, one Aouani didn’t have.“I did everything I could’ve done, but he was just stronger than me,” Aouani said. “There’s not much you can do.”Aouani narrowly missed out on the gold medal by a little over a second, but gained confidence after the ACC Championships, and Aouani finally started to understand his capabilities as a runner two years after transferring from Lamar. As the track and field season transitioned from indoor to outdoor after the championship, Aouani only had one thought on his mind. “I went to coach Bell’s office, and we sat together, and we discussed the training program for the next month,” Aouani said. “And I was like ‘Coach, I want to break the school (10k) record.’”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textCompeting against collegiate and professional runners in the 10k, Aouani finished ninth with a time of 28:25.36, beating the ACC and Syracuse school record, which Martin Hehir set in 2015, by two seconds. Now, Aouani hopes that performance is a sign of things to come as he targets his first gold medal at the ACC Outdoor Championship, while he also hopes to finish in the top-12 at the NCAA East Preliminary to secure a berth for the NCAA Championship in June.Anna Henderson | Digital Design EditorAouani said that, in the lead-up to the race, he didn’t think about the race or the record, instead choosing to enjoy the trip to the west coast with his teammates. An hour before race time, Aouani got into his “racing mindset,” focusing only on the race and what he needed to do to break the record. That singular focus proved to be pivotal in Aouani’s quest to break the record. “One lap to go, the clock was like 27:21 so I was like ‘Quick math, I got to run 66 (seconds) last lap, so I was like OK, can’t miss this,’” Aouani said. “I just pushed as hard as I could.”During his first year at Syracuse, Aouani suffered a stress fracture on his tibia, forcing him to focus on rehabilitation on top of adjusting to his new surroundings. Aouani said school work proved to be difficult at the time too, and these factors led him to perform on the track at levels lower than he knew he was capable of. Coming off what Aouani said was his “worst cross country season ever,” the memory of that season still angers Aouani, but motivates him to never feel the disappointment he felt then again. For Aouani, breaking the 10k record was a testament to the work ethic he’s displayed since transferring from Lamar in 2016. After telling Bell his goal of breaking the 10k record, the pair worked on outlining a training regime that played to Aouani’s strengths and would allow him to break the record. They worked on giving Aouani more strength-based training, logging more mileage on his practice runs and increasing the intensity of the training sessions through longer runs. “He (Aouani) has done an exceptional amount of work,” Bell said. “And the volume and the quality he has done, maybe only Justyn Knight has been able to do that in my time here since 2005.”As he completed the final lap at the Stanford Invitational in 64 seconds, Aouani said he was unsure of how to feel. Aouani ran over to his teammates stationed behind a short fence on the side of the track, where he was met by an embrace from Aidan Tooker as the rest of his teammates continued to cheer and celebrate his record-breaking performance. “My teammates were probably more excited than me,” Aouani said, “I still couldn’t believe it, and I didn’t know how exactly to react to that.” Commentslast_img read more