St. Vincent's Poole runs to All-American status
Chansler Poole spent much of his weekend at the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships in late May studying for the Medical College Admission Test.
When the time came for his on-the-track test, Poole passed with flying colors.
Poole, a 2010 Penn-Trafford graduate and rising senior at St. Vincent, earned All-American status with a seventh-place finish in the 1,500-meter run at the NCAA Championships on May 25 in LaCrosse, Wisc. He became the first All-American in the history of the St. Vincent men's track and cross country programs.
“Going into the last lap, I counted myself as in sixth or seventh, so I was just trying to hold my place,” Poole said. “When I was coming down the last straightaway, I wasn't sure if I was top eight — I thought I was and I felt pretty good, but I got one dive at the finish line. After I got home, I was pretty sure I was in the top eight after that, so I was feeling pretty good.”
Poole's time of 3 minutes, 49.54 seconds also broke the school record in the 1,500 meters, which he set earlier this season.
The top-eight finish and subsequent All-American honors capped a remarkable year for Poole. He entered the season with a personal-best time of around 3:57 and managed to shave eight seconds off that time during the 2013 season.
“He comes to practice every day focused on what we're going to do for the day — and specifically on workout days,” said St. Vincent assistant Steve Snider, who coaches the 1,500 runners. “With that long time period (of the season), a lot of guys can get lackadaisical — they're worried about peaking too soon and whatnot — and he never did that. Whatever I asked him to do, he was more than ready for. He had a great work ethic throughout the season, and he never got hurt.”
Poole said his health played a major role in his success this season. He struggled with inflammation in the iliotibial band of his knees during cross country season in his sophomore year, and he wasn't fully healthy when track and field season began.
This season, however, Poole stayed healthy through cross country season, advancing to the NCAA Championships, and came into track and field season ready to go.
“I think having a really good cross country season helped springboard me into track season,” Poole said. “I was hitting times in the workouts early in the season that I was hitting late in previous seasons.”
St. Vincent also added an 8 a.m. practice session this season to the usual 4 p.m. session from previous seasons. At the early sessions, runners could do workouts such as pushups, sit-ups and lifting that they didn't have time for in the afternoon practices.
“I think all of that definitely played a factor and definitely helped us get in better shape,” Poole said.
Poole qualified for the national championships by posting the 17th-best time in the 1,500 meters during the season.
To qualify for the finals, Poole had to finish in 12th place or better in the preliminary rounds May 23. He placed 11th to qualify.
“He's throwing up like crazy after the (preliminary) race because he put so much effort into it,” Snider said. “What I'm thinking, No. 1, is: ‘Is he going to recover in time for Saturday, having put forth that effort?' And No. 2, when (athletes) put forth that much effort, sometimes they're not willing to hurt enough to make it happen again subconsciously.”
That didn't pose a problem for Poole.
“He just kept peaking at the right time, and I just credit him for his general competitive spirit,” Snider said. “He really wanted it.”
Poole, a biology major, took the MCATs in late May and expected to hear his results sometime this month. He said he would like to pursue surgery as a career.
With a summer ahead to train, Poole said he's targeting an All-American finish in cross country this season. He advanced to nationals during his freshman and junior seasons, but he failed to place within the top 35 runners — the benchmark for All-American status.
As far as the 1,500 is concerned, Poole said he hopes to break his own record again and finish in the 3:47 range.
“I'd be pretty happy with that by the time it's all over,” he said.