LIVINGSTON, NJ — The most prestigious spring track meets are about to shift into high gear over the next few weekends, and Philmon Mehari of Livingston has been training and being properly paced for this time of then season.
"In the Super Essex Conference meet, he will run the mile and the 800 [meter]," said Livingston spring track head coach Dave Czeizinger. "After the SEC, we have the Essex County meet the next weekend, then sectionals, then groups, then the Meet of Champions. If Philmon goes to the Meet of Champions, then three weekends in a row he would have to race the best opponents in the 3200. I want him to keep some spring in his legs."
The 3200-meter run is the junior runner's best event. Mehari's best time in the 3200 to date is 9:34.62 in the 2019 indoor season Meet of Champions in February.
"In 2018, Philmon won the Super Essex Conference 3200 in the fall 2018 cross-country season, he was the American Division champion, indoors this past season he was 3200 champion in the SEC, he was second at Group 4 in the 3200 and made it to the Meet of Champions," Czeizinger said. "He has made the Meet of Champions in the 2018 cross-country season, last spring and the indoor season in 2019."
The 3200 is far from the only event in which Mehari competes, and with a "murderer's row" lineup of meets coming up over the next month, the Livingston coach has been easing Mehari into things with a gradual buildup.
"Training is much harder for a distance runner in the winter," Czeizinger said. "You have to run 16 laps, there are twice as many curves and corners, and a lot of runners are packed in. Last year he ran a 9:42 in the spring. The progression is going upward for him. And his best mile is 4:26."
Mehari's personal bests in other events are 1:27.00 in the 600 meters and 2:41.09 in the 1000 meters. "He is undefeated in the mile and two-mile in dual meets," the coach said.
Helping Mehari train for these events has become a simplified task because, Czeizinger says, Mehari is responsive to advice and guidance.
"He is very coachable," Czeizinger said. "He picks up the nuances of actual competition and he does his workouts with fervor. He takes his workouts very seriously. He has matured, he has gotten much better over last few years in strategy. Philmon can now understand when I explain racing techniques, strategies in the 2-mile, where to be, when to move and what to look out for."
Philmon Mehari is certainly someone to "look out for" in the upcoming biggest meets of the spring track season.