May 1, 2010
Meet Preview | Live Results | Live Webcast
MADISON, Wis. -- Jack Bolas competes in a world in which the clock never lies.
Recently, the calendar has been offering up some hard truths, too.
With the page turning to the month of May, and with time ticking away on his senior season at the University of the Wisconsin, Bolas is ready to step off the sidelines and back into competition.
The middle distance All-American, who was last seen anchoring the Badgers to a conference tiitle in the distance medley relay at the 2010 Big Ten Indoor Championships, has been shelved ever since because of a leg injury.
Bolas will jump back into the fray in a big way when he makes his outdoor debut in the 1,500 meters at the Payton Jordan Cardinal Invitational late Saturday in Palo Alto, Calif. The annual meet has grown into one of the nation’s top distance carnivals and is packed with elite competition.
The meet also will serve as an opportunity for several of his teammates to make their outdoor season debut in their specialty events. Junior Zach Beth will race his first open 800 meters of the season, while senior Ryan Gasper will make his first run in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.
In a perfect setting, Bolas would ease back into competition more gradually. In reality, the calendar says it’s now or never. After this weekend, all that remains of the Badgers’ “regular season” is the Wisconsin Twilight next Saturday in Madison.
From there, it’s championship season, which begins with the Big Ten outdoor championships, May 14-16.
“It’s where the calendar fell,” Bolas said. “It’s either make something of this season and get running now, or we call it. It’s just how the timing worked out.”
While this weekend’s race will throw Bolas directly into the fire, it also provides an outstanding opportunity. Under the NCAA’s new two-region system, Bolas has until May 16 to post a mark that ranks him among the top 48 competitors in the West Region.
Otherwise, he won’t qualify for the new preliminary round of the NCAA championships, May 29-30 in Austin, Texas.
That, basically, leaves this weekend and the Big Ten championships as his opportunities to lay down a qualifying time. At last year’s Payton Jordan meet, Bolas ran a time of 3:37.64 that ranked as the fourth-fastest collegiate 1,500 meters time of 2009.
“It’s a good time to get a race under my belt, but I’m not in the spot I wanted to be in at this point in the season,” Bolas said. “If I look back six weeks, this isn’t where I saw myself, but things happen and I’m fortunate to be able to get on the road and go race.”
Even though Bolas says he’s well behind his normal schedule for workouts at this point in a season – “It’s been humbling,” he said -- he is looking forward to a return to competition.
“I’m really excited,” Bolas said. “I’ve had a couple of workouts under my belt, and Stanford is the best invitational event of the year.”
Beyond the competition factor, Bolas is looking forward to rejoining his teammates on the road. He missed out on the Badgers’ spring training trip to Florida and also couldn’t contribute to the team’s outstanding run at the Drake Relays last week.
“Even to be on the road and supporting the guys, even if I couldn’t have been on that DMR or on the 4-by-mile team, just to be there and give my support would have been great,” he said.
“That’s the biggest thing, just being able to be on the road with the team,” he added. “Their success has really given me energy and a reason to be excited.”
For Bolas, whose senior class includes Gasper and Craig Miller, it comes down to making the most of the time he has left in a Wisconsin uniform.
“This is my last chance to be with those guys I came in with,” he said. “The guys I’ve gotten really close with, it’s winding down for all of us. This is my last chance to spend a season with these guys, and that’s something I’ll never get back.”
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