His race may not have gone the way he wanted it to at the New York State Indoor Track State Championships on Saturday, but the future is still extremely bright for East Hampton senior Ryan Fowkes.
Competing in the 1,000-meter race at the Ocean Breeze Track and Field Athletic Complex on Staten Island, Fowkes finished seventh in his heat and 11th overall in the state out of 23 runners after finishing in 2:35.37, slightly behind his personal best and school record 2:34.75. Bronxville senior Matthew Rizzo jumped out to a large lead at the beginning of the race and kept up his fast pace, winning the event in a new meet record of 2:24.06.
Fowkes said that had other runners tried to keep up with Rizzo, that may have actually helped him—but they ran at their own pace.
Rizzo “took off on his own. We were all kind of left with blank faces, didn’t really know he was going to run like that,” he said.
“I would have liked to have gone out a little harder,” Fowkes added. “I felt like I was in a bad spot for most of the race, kind of tucked in with people surrounding me, so I felt like I couldn’t really run the way I wanted to.”
East Hampton head coach Ben Turnbull and Fowkes were both hoping he would finish under 2:32, so he could qualify for the New Balance Indoor Nationals. He wasn’t able to do that, but, it was still a successful season. He improved his school-record time in the 1,000, and he also set a new school record (4:25.49) in the 1,600-meter race at the recent Long Island Elite Meet, surpassing Erik Engstrom’s previous record of 4:26.80 set in 2016.
“I thought Ryan ran well,” Turnbull said. “Ryan and I both thought he would run faster and finish higher, but due to how the race went, he ran as fast as he could. He is very tall and needs room to open his stride, but with so many good runners he got caught in the pack and boxed in. Until the last 100 meters, he never got to open up and sprint. By then the race had gotten away from him.
“It was a learning experience for him, but his time was not bad,” he continued. “We both know he had a great season and he accomplished a lot in the last five months.”
Like his former mentor, Engstrom, who is finishing up his career at the University of Massachusetts, Fowkes will be running in college at George Washington University to run both cross country and track. Fowkes said it came down to three schools, with Providence being his top pick before visiting George Washington in D.C., which sealed his decision. American University, which is also in D.C., was Fowkes’ other option.
“When I visited, I got to spend a day with the coaches and team and I felt like I really fit in well,” he said of George Washington. “It’s in D.C. so it’s a great location, a lot of stuff going on, great school academically. Good team as well.”
He’ll be a history major in one of the most historical cities in the country. Fowkes said his father studied to become a history professor before becoming a builder, and that he instilled a love for the subject in both himself and his siblings. He said he would like to own his own business someday, but is hoping he can link his history degree to that somehow. If not, he may pursue teaching.
With the outdoor spring track season approaching, Fowkes still has things he’d like to accomplish.
“We are both excited for the spring season,” Turnbull said. “He would like to go back to states and go under 4:20 for the 1,600 meters. I believe he can meet both of these and will leave East Hampton as the most accomplished runner.”