Track and Tradition

Navy's James Pearson

May 31, 2012

The beauty of the setting belied the fierceness of the competition. In the shadows of the Appalchians, on the western bank of the Hudson River, the Army and Navy track teams met on April 7, 2012, for the 86th edition of the annual Star Meet. The competition, as it is every year, was the pinnacle of the track season for the athletes at the United States Military and Naval academies.

In the warm and windy mid-afternoon, the men began their premeet rituals. Drills, stretching, strides, a prayer. Everyone assembled on the track at West Point knew the teams were evenly matched, but no one yet knew that the meet would be shaped by two diminutive distance runners, two young men who defined what the rivalry means to the athletes in it.

The Star Meet is track and field at its most pure: measurements of time and distance are irrelevant; the team is valued over the individual; the importance of winning is second only to the honor with which the competition is conducted. And this particular meet would end as one of the closest ever held in the most storied rivalry in college sports.

For the complete article by Paul Coover for the online version of Running Times magazine, go here