By Justin Feil, Packet Media Group
Brandon Tubby told Hillsborough High School track and field coach Rich Refi that he felt good on Sunday morning, March 13.
By the afternoon, Tubby felt absolutely amazing.
The senior obliterated his own indoor 1,600-meter school record and set a school record for indoors or outdoors when he ran the mile in 4:10.64 to medal in sixth place overall at the New Balance Indoor Nationals in New York City on Sunday.
“It was unbelievable,” Tubby said. “I was not expecting to really hit that time until this upcoming season but I was lucky. I really can’t believe how it all played out.”
Tubby was less than a second from winning the national title in the mile, and his time is the fastest mile ever by a Somerset County runner. His time is the sixth fastest in state history.
He sat in third place as the first heat went through the first 800 meters. Then he made his move.
“The pace went out in a 2:06, which put us right on track for a good time,” Tubby said. “I told myself before the race that you run faster when you’re being chased. I didn’t want anyone in front of me. I ran the same split for my last 800. Once I went, I maintained the same pace. I just wanted to run fast. I was racing the clock.”
Tubby had no one in front of him until the final 25 yards when he was overtaken by a late move. Reed Brown won the heat in 4:09.95 and ended up winning the championship when the second — supposedly faster — heat was narrowly slower.
“I didn’t have enough time to react,” Tubby said of finishing second in his heat. “Watching the other heat, the finish for that race was crazy, too. The athlete who was leading it on the home stretch tripped with 10 meters to go and four guys crossed the line within tenths of a second of each other.”
Tubby picked up All-America status as well as a medal for his efforts. It capped a season that saw him set records at seemingly every step.
“I was disappointed with how I did at Meet of Champs,” said Tubby, who was sixth at the MOC in the 1,600 meters. “I already ran my fastest time of the season (a 4:15.17 Group IV meet record). I was really longing for one last great performance to end the season. It was my best season so far. I won the most titles that I’ve ever won. I didn’t want to end it with a feeling of disappointment and regret. I went after that nationals race so my coach would think he’s getting his investment out of me. It worked out.
“Up until (Sunday), I would have said it was a mediocre season. (Sunday) changed everything.”
Tubby exits the indoor season with a list of records. He set the meet records at the Somerset County and Skyland Conference championships, in addition to the Group IV meet. He did all of it without speed work this winter.
“It’s all strength,” said coach Refi. “None of those 200s were under 29 (seconds). None of it was fast. It was all strength, but he was able to put eight of them together.
“He ran faster than I thought he could,” he added. “He’s a real talent. He’s flying under the radar and people don’t see it.”
Refi had tried to convince colleges of Tubby’s talent. Northeastern believes in him, and Tubby said that he will matriculate there in the fall. He still has a spring to make more believers.
“I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to drop a better time,” Tubby said. “There’s going to be good competition. There were three All-Americans in the mile from New Jersey. The whole dynamic of this state was shook up by that race. Last year, the fastest indoor miler was 4:13. Now there’s four guys under that time this year. It’s a completely different dynamic.
“I have more faith in myself that I can run a time like that,” he added. “I was still training, but not putting a huge toll on my body. I wasn’t doing speed work. I’m not really going to change what I’m doing. I’m going to listen to my coach, keep eating right and getting enough sleep. I really trust myself that what I’m doing is the right way to do things.”
He was able to run 4:10 without fine-tuning like he will in the spring. He ran it off his base training, and he was shocked out how good he felt.
“It was the strangest experience,” Tubby said. “Running the fastest time I’ve run by a long shot, but not feeling the pain of it. That’s the biggest surprise of it is running my fastest time without the pain.”
Tubby has taken a few days to recover before pouring himself into training for the spring outdoor season that is his true focus. He is just one of the Raiders excited to see what the outdoor season holds after their indoor accomplishments. Several Hillsborough athletes put their names in the record books.
Lauren Smith set the school record at 55 meters with a 7.54-second clocking. She also set a hand-held record in the 300 meters of 1:41.0.
Kelsey Vieira set the school and county record for the long jump with a mark of 19-1 and 1/4. Vieira set a 200-meter school record of 26.02 seconds. She also won the girls triple jump at the prestigious Easter States Invitational.
Paige Novak was the only girl to qualify in two events for the Meet of Champions when she qualified in the 800 meters and 1,600. She took 10th in the 800. She also neared the school record for the mile when she ran the equivalent of 5:09.37 for the 1,600 at Easterns.
The Raiders team of Vieira, Zaidmary Guzman, Smith and Novak barely missed another record in the medley relay.
“We had a good indoors,” Refi said.
Tubby said he won’t run anything too hard until Penn Relays in late April. Tubby will have to decide if he runs the mile or perhaps only runs it on a relay for Hillsborough. He and the 4-by-800 of Jeremy Shipley, Mitchel Baron and Dominic DiNardi are looking forward to their potential in the spring. They have the qualifying time for Penn Relays.
“The focus indoors was the mile for me, but also the 4×800 was a big priority, too,” Tubby said. “Being the anchor leg, I’d always have to put out a fast time for us at the end. A lot of meets, it was mile/800 to see how good of a double I could do. Two weeks I ran a 1:55 in the relay and I went back with a 4:21. That’s just good training and good practice for what spring track will be. I’ll be running a lot of events, running one and recovering and going out to run another fast time.”
Tubby’s fast time at nationals was an all-time great. It was a motivating way to finish the indoor season and leave another mark for HHS.
“It’s a record I don’t think is going to be broken for a long time,” Refi said. “If ever.”
HILLSBOROUGH: Brandon Tubby runs fastest mile ever for a Raider
By Justin Feil, Packet Media Group