Boys 4×800 team reacts to cancellation of New Balance Nationals


That was how each of the runners on the boys 4x800m team responded when asked what they thought of the New Balance Nationals Indoor, scheduled for March 13-15, being canceled. For seniors Michael Hulleman and Tucker McGrath, junior David Beck and sophomore Calvin Hulleman, the record-breaking indoor track season came to a screeching halt when the announcement was made. 

Even though a series of other major events had been canceled, including the 2020 NBA season, the team was hopeful to still get the opportunity to race. Then, March 11 at midnight, New Balance issued a press release on their website: the Indoor National Meet was canceled due to the widespread cases of COVID-19 in New York.

“I literally just woke up, I got out of bed, and my dad came in. I really didn’t internalize it. But after a couple of minutes, I realized what was going on, and I was really, really, really bummed,” Calvin Hulleman said.

“It was like heartbreak in a way; it was something that we were all working towards the whole season and looking [forward] to, especially as a 4×800 team. So that was a pretty devastating blow to all the hard work we had put in this season,” Beck said.

After qualifying Jan. 12, the team spent the last two months preparing themselves both physically and mentally for what would have been the biggest race of their lives. This included altered training designed for them to peak in performance at the state competition and hold that peak until March 13, when they would have run at nationals. 

“The past two weeks after states, it was a lot of work focusing on getting prepped for nationals mentally and physically. That work [was] not completely thrown out the window, but now it’s not going towards what we had hoped it would be for,” Beck said.

“We were still doing track workouts, and this week we were kind of making sure we were treating our body right. We were getting everything in order, fixing up all of our dings and all of our scratches and bruises,” Michael Hulleman said.

Beck, along with competing in the 4x800m relay at the Emerging Elite level, also qualified for the 800m as a solo event at the Championship level. Along with the State Champion title he recently acquired, he was also hoping to become All-American this weekend.

“It’s tough, because I was hoping to have a good showing at Nationals, and we as a team were hoping for a big race, trying to place in Emerging Elite. Then individually, I was hoping to be All-American, which is top six at nationals. I know a lot of teams watch, and a lot of coaches watch and are there at the meet, so it’s hard to not have those races to show up and perform. I know I will have more opportunities this outdoor season and throughout cross country and then indoor and outdoor next year,” Beck said.

Although Beck will have more opportunities throughout the rest of the season and the upcoming year, two of the boys on the team are seniors, which was part of why this race was so important to the whole team.

“It was us proving to ourselves that we can get this. We have two seniors on the team, and they have been working hard for four years. We want them to see success, and that is a big part of it. All season we are [a] brotherhood, we are a family and we want to prove to ourselves and to each other that we can really do this and that we are really good,” Calvin Hulleman said.

“For the 4×8, it was huge because it was four guys. We all trained our a—- off for this big moment in New York City, we got the Armory running the best competition in the nation and we worked for each other, with each other and supported each other throughout the whole season. Back in January when we finally qualified, it was a moment of validation, and we were super relieved to have qualified and hit our goal for the season. Getting that stripped away from us, this thing that we were working towards all season is hard, because we came up a little bit short at states from what we wanted to do. We wanted to redeem ourselves at nationals, and not having that is a bitter way to end the season,” Beck said.

As their indoor season ended, outdoor track started only to be delayed by the closing of all schools and the cancellation of all practices. This, however, does not change the team’s goals of reclaiming their spot at nationals, this time at New Balance Nationals Outdoor from June 18-21.

“If anything, we will be even hungrier for outdoor, because now we know we are due at nationals. It’s just an extra incentive to qualify for nationals this year for outdoor,” Michael Hulleman said.

“I’m hoping that [the cancellation] is going to be a source of motivation right now, but it’s the worst source of motivation because it’s not helpful at all. I’m looking forward to big races in outdoor, but it’s going to be a long buildup that’s going to go through a lot more workouts and a lot [of] training [and] a lot more painful hours of hard work. [I’m] not necessarily looking forward to those aspects, but I’m looking forwards to the big end goal of nationals again,” Beck said.