DURHAM, N.C. -- With three individuals and a 4x400 meter relay heading to Eugene, Ore., for the 2014 Outdoor Track & Field Championship, GoDuke.com caught up with Duke’s competitors for a Q&A leading up to the national competition.
Today’s Q&A features redshirt sophomore Thomas Lang. Lang qualified for his first NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship after placing seventh overall in the men’s javelin with a mark of 227-0 (69.20) at the NCAA East Preliminary Round meet in Jacksonville, Fla., Thursday, May 29.
Hometown: Royersford, Pa.
High School: Pope John Paul II
B.J. Linnenbrink (Duke Throws Coach) on Lang’s Development: Anytime you can get into a competition at [the NCAA] level, it’s only going to benefit you. Coming off a year with having elbow surgery, the base goal for us this year was to come out and compete hard and try to set a personal record. He’s done that multiple times and he’s really been able to throw well in the biggest meets. We’re just continuing to ride that wave into the NCAAs and looking to do some of the same when we get there.
Getting to the final meet is a challenge, and then once you’re there, being able to make finals and score some points is an even bigger challenge. The more times you can get a look at that level of competition and that type of competition, the easier it’s going to be for you moving forward. Now, when you show up to a regional meet, it’s not going to be that big of a deal. You do what you need to do, take care of business and move on. Hopefully what Tommy takes away from this is a great experience competing in one of the best venues the United States has to offer for track & field and really learns how to compete at a high level.
GoDuke.com: How did it feel after you realized you were going to finish in the top 12 and qualify for the national meet?
Thomas Lang: I definitely didn’t feel comfortable in the prelims, during the first three throws. Even though I had thrown 69 and change, which is right around my personal best, I really didn’t feel comfortable until they reordered us for the finals and I knew I was fifth going into finals. To be in the top half, I felt like I was going to get bumped down a few places, but I didn’t think there were going to be seven or eight guys that were going to bump me out of the 11 behind me. I felt pretty comfortable at that point. I did get bumped down by a couple guys. The weather started to pick up a little during the competition and I think that played into my favor. Throwing at ACCs in the rain in 50 degrees, at least in Jacksonville it was warm when it was raining. I had been there before, I wasn’t really that worked up about it, and like I said, once the finals came around, I felt pretty good about my position, and I think coach did, too.
GoDuke.com: Have you been out to Eugene, Ore., before?
TL: I never have. I’m super excited. Apparently it’s the place for track and field in the United States. I’m beyond thrilled, just to soak it all up. I’m happy that I throw on the last day. One, because it should be pretty crowded on Saturday out there, and two, I get the whole week to enjoy the experience and enjoy the meet, to get the most out of it.
GoDuke.com: What are your expectations of competing at Hayward Field?
TL: I’m definitely going to treat this year like a learning experience. I fully anticipate being back again at some poin over the next couple years. I know it’s going to be crowded. I know there’s going to be a lot of noise. I know a lot of guys are going to be excited. I’m going to try to use that excitement in a positive way and not get too worked up about the atmosphere and the fact that it is Eugene and it’s the national championships. I’m sure I’m going to be nervous a little bit, but overall its going to be fun. In my opinion, the regional meet is the big hump to get over. It’s the one all the pressure is on, but now I’ve taken my season as far as I can, so there’s really nothing more to do than to sit back and enjoy the ride.
GoDuke.com: Do you have any type of pre-meet routine prior to competition?
TL: The night before a big competition I just like to isolate myself somewhere. I’ll listen to some music and stretch, just trying to mellow out and visualize a big throw that I’ll hopefully have the next day. The morning of competition I’m usually too nervous to have a big breakfast so I’ll eat as much as I can. Maybe snack once on a granola bar. Other than that, I’ll listen to pump up music, but as the competition gets close and I’m done my warm up, usually the last one or two songs I listen to are just laid-back instrumentals. That’s how I approach any of the big meets I go into.
GoDuke.com: What would you say has been your best memory as a member of Duke’s track team?
TL: Just being surrounded by a great group of guys and an awesome coaching staff is the best part about it, in all honesty. As far as performance-wise, up to this point, I’d say ACCs was pretty awesome, coming back on my last throw to win it was pretty cool. It doesn’t get much sweeter than that in the javelin world. I hope that there’s even better ones to come, but like I said, just being on the team is awesome and better than anyone could imagine.
GoDuke.com: How does making the national meet early in your career help you develop later in your career?
TL: Just being around the competition helps more than anything. I’m one of those guys that needs to be pushed a little bit when I’m out there throwing. I tend to throw to win.