ATHLETE PROFILE: Russel Verbofsky
The Carnegie Mellon men’s track and field team won the University Athletic Association (UAA) championships with 168 points two weekends ago in Atlanta, Ga. Tartan senior Russel Verbofsky contributed points in both the 200-meter dash, with a season-best time of 22.25, and the 400-meter, with another season-best time of 49.75. Last week, The Tartan sat down with Verbofsky to discuss his experience as a student athlete at Carnegie Mellon.
Tartan: How did you get into track?
Verbofsky: I originally ran track to stay in shape for soccer. I realized I was pretty fast and started to run more and more from there. There is no greater feeling than beating one of your rivals to the finish line.
T: Was track a part of your decision to come to Carnegie Mellon?
V: Track and soccer were the reasons. [This] was one of the few schools that I was able to do both. After I went to nationals my freshman year, I realized I was better at [track], so I quit soccer because I wanted more time to concentrate on school and track.
T: How do you handle athletics and the academic load at Carnegie Mellon?
V: It was pretty tough junior year; there were a lot of late nights doing work and my times in track suffered a little bit because of it. Coach has always been very good about giving us time to get our work done and making up tests when we travel. Senior year has been a lot easier, though, and my times are better than ever.
T: Do you have any pre-competition rituals?
V: I like to take at least five minutes before my races and sit in my lane on the track and concentrate on what I’m going to do. I like to do all of my warming up on the track in the lane that I’m going to run in. I also get into the starting blocks the same way every time.
T: Can you describe what the atmosphere was like at the UAA championships?
V: The atmosphere was amazing in Atlanta. The meet came down to the last race between us and the home team, Emory. Everybody was into the race, and it was probably the most exciting race I have ever run. When we got back to Carnegie Mellon, a bunch of us went out and painted the Fence to let the school know about our accomplishment.
T: Which school is your personal rival?
V: Wash. U. has won the last four indoor conferences and two outdoor conference championships. We always seem to come in second behind them, until this year of course. They also have a lot of good runners in my races, which always gives me good competition.
T: Do you have a most memorable competition?
V: Well, the end of the UAAs was last weekend, and in the 4x400-meter relay we needed to come in fourth or fifth. I got the baton. I was anchor. We were in fifth, but I dropped back to sixth and we were losing then. But at the end of the race, we won. It was pretty sweet.
T: Are you particularly proud of any accomplishments?
V: Running my 200-meter indoor school record time at the Armory my sophomore year. It was a conference-winning time and arguably one of the toughest records to beat. Also, at nationals my sophomore year, where we came in sixth and broke our own school record, which also is one of the toughest records to beat. More recently, anchoring the 4x400-meter relay at conference in Atlanta to the first-ever team conference title.