He hit the ground alright, but it kept him from running.

A case of shin splints caused a roadblock at the start of the outdoor track season for the St. Dominic Academy senior distance runner, but the injury is now behind him. In front of him, now, are his goals.

“Really I’m just looking to PR in the one-mile and two-mile,” Villamarin said. “Focus on those two events and get better times than I’ve usually been getting in outdoor track.”

PR, or “personal record,” is the ultimate internal motivator for runners, throwers and jumpers. St. Dom’s coach Steve Amoroso hopes his relatively small group of athletes each achieve a PR or two throughout the season, and Villamarin is no exception.

Going hand-in-hand with those all-time-low personal numbers Villamarin is striving to reach are a pair of qualifying times for the Class C state championship meet in the one- and two-mile runs.

“We expect him to qualify for states in the 1600 and 3200,” Amoroso said.

Villamarin’s motivation to meet those qualifying standards is there.

“That’s a lot, actually, because the only event I had previously done at states was the 4×800, and for that you don’t need a qualifying time,” Villamarin said. “So it’s really huge for me to qualify this season personally for the one-mile and two-mile.”

Villamarin has already met the provisional qualifying mark of 11:00 in the 3,200-meter run. He beat that time in his first meet of the season, finishing first with a winning time of 10:54.75. He bested that time Tuesday in his second meet, taking second-place in a time of 10:43.4. The automatic qualifying time is 10:40.

The two-mile was the only event in which Villamarin competed Tuesday, skipping the one-mile run that precedes it.

“I wanted to peak, and I knew that not doing the one-mile would give me a little bit more of an energy boost for the two-mile,” Villamarin said.

He will add the one-mile back into his reportoire for the remainder of the season, and he will have to if he wants to qualify in that event, as well. The provisional qualifying standard in the 1,600-meter run is 5:05. Villamarin ran a 5:07.2 for a first-place finish in the Saints’ first meet.

It’s of little surprise that Villamarin has done better in the two-mile than the one-mile. The lover of running said he prefers cross country to track. The fall sport has runners traverse 3.1-mile courses.

Villamarin did well at that distance during his senior cross country season. He placed 10th at the Mountain Valley Conference championship meet, 13th at the Class C South regionals and 31st at Class C states — all team-best finishes.

“Throughout these past years I’ve really enjoyed cross country more as a sport,” Villamarin said. “And so to end (my cross country career) on a high note and to have a pretty good season, it meant a lot to me.”

A strong cross country season led to an indoor track season that was inconsistent performance-wise, but a “huge boost of (his) confidence)” heading into the outdoor season. Villamarin realized that he could run the times that would grant him the state championship qualification that he had long sought to achieve.

Then came the shin splints.

The overuse ailment is something Villamarin is used to, and even worked at to avoid, but ultimately couldn’t.

“I tend to get shin splints just by increasing the mileage and doing too much early on,” Villamarin said.

He had been doing strength training all year with cross country coaches Josh and Krista Brown — who also work with the distance runners during the track season — but even those, combined with alternative training methods, couldn’t prevent Villamarin from feeling the burn one more time.

But this time, instead of stopping his season before it started, Villamarin — with the help of his coaches, especially the Browns — attacked his shin splints head-on.

“All I had to do was take a week off of running, just walking and strength training, and then ease back into the mileage,” Villamarin said. “It was tough mentally that week, not to do any runs outside. But I was just focused on the goal and focus on later on in the season.”

The week off might have been a blessing in disguise for Villamarin, who admitted to feeling fresh since resuming his normal training.

Villamarin is by no means taking his training lightly. Amoroso said some of the other team members joke that Villamarin’s warm-up and cool-down runs are longer than their whole workouts. But that’s a work ethic that makes the senior a leader.

Amoroso said that after getting back to campus after Tuesday’s meet at Telstar, Villamarin got off the bus and started doing some laps around the school using his cellphone as a flashlight.

There are only so many meets during the season for Villamarin to reach his goal of qualifying for both long-distance events at the state meet, so Villamarin — so close to completing those goals — is bent (sensibly) on making sure he does everything he can to meet those standards.

“Being this close to qualifying is a significant motivator for him and his training,” Amoroso said.

Villamarin still has three more meets — including the MVC championship — to qualify for states in his two individual events. That’s a seemingly small number, but still provides Villamarin with plenty of chances to keep getting better.

“There’s a lot (of motivation),” Villamarin said. “It’s really cool … to know that I still have one more season to go in my high-school career, and ending that on a good note. Just pushing and knowing that I have my whole team behind me means so much to me.”

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