Carmel’s Eric Holt wins 1500 gold at international championship in Bahamas
"This win was finally a big-time victory besides some invitationals... I want to prove to naysayers that I can win at big meets, not just small."
By Nancy Haggerty, Rockland / Westchester Journal News
He has run a bit faster. But better?
Former Carmel High School track standout Eric Holt, who temporarily retired from the sport after competing for Binghamton University, continued to show Sunday his decision to resume training and competing was a good one.
The 27-year-old was considered a surprise fourth-place finisher earlier this summer at the 2022 Toyota USATF Outdoor Championships in Eugene.
Sunday, at the North American, Central American & Caribbean Open Area Championships, he may have erased "surprise" from any future high finishes.
Running in brutally hot conditions in the Bahamas, Holt captured the men's NACAC 1500 meter title, clocking 3:37.62 to edge fellow American Josh Thompson (3:37.68).
The 14-man field included Olympian Charles Philibert-Thiboutot of Canada, who finished a half blink behind in third in 3:37.91 and American Johnny Gregorek Jr. (fourth place, 3:38.04), who was sixth in the event at the recent national championships.
This was the second time this summer that Holt defeated Gregorek, who entered the race ranked higher in the world at 1500 meters than Holt.
In fact, so was Philibert-Thiboutot and four others in the race.
Holt, whose 1500 personal record is 3:35.80, termed the win "100%" his biggest ever, quipping, "Unfortunately, it's probably my biggest victory since winning states in high school."
But he's an entirely different athlete now — one who's proving he can compete with and beat some of the best in the world.
"This win was finally a big-time victory besides some invitationals... I want to prove to naysayers that I can win at big meets, not just small," he said.
In winning, he overcame Philibert-Thiboutot's use of a teammate as a rabbit, immediately recognizing what was happening and staying with Philibert-Thiboutot.
"(Before the race,) I figured the Canadians were up to something," Holt said.
But he also credited his win to being smart well before the starting gun.
Because of the heat, which had an on-track-area feel in excess of 100 degrees, he trained indoors on a treadmill the day before the race, then wore an ice jacket with an iced towel around his neck while getting ready on race day.
"The warmup was unbearable but I felt like I had a really smart warmup that allowed me to win the race," Holt said, characterizing his run overall as "the best executed race in my life."
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