Devin Hart's junior year at Pt. Pleasant Boro High School (NJ) was about as perfect as he could have envisioned.
From the fall, where he won Sectional, Group, and Meet of Champions cross country titles and was 10th among nationwide competition at Foot Locker Nationals, to the spring, where he dropped a sub 4:10 mile and sub-9 minute 3200m to go along with a 3K win at the Penn Relays and a fourth-place finish in the 2-mile (8:53.36) at Brooks PR, almost everything went to plan.
But that would be ignoring the obvious.
Hart isn't finished just yet.
The New Jersey native and blue-chipper, who won Meet of Champions titles in all three seasons in 2017-2018, has extremely high goals in 2018-2019, which begin in earnest in September.
Now his sights are on proving yet again why he's an athlete no one should be sleeping on. Catch Hart's interview with MileSplit USA to find out the senior's plans for this coming fall.
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1. What was your summer like? What did you get into (both running and otherwise, i.e. work, fun trips, friend outings)
This summer, like the last 3 summers, consisted mostly of running in the morning, working, and then running or cross training in the evening. To be honest there is not a lot of fun to be had because most of the time in the summer is filled with some sort of obligation. The week where I enjoyed myself the most definitely had to be the week I went to running camp (XCU), where I got to spend time with my friends while continuing to train at a high level.
2. What was your progression of mileage, and what kind of plan did you have this summer to ready you for XC?
Like the last 3 years, my mileage and overall intensity of training have increased steadily from freshman to senior year. I typically like to start at around 40 miles per week and then go up 5-10 miles per week until the end of the summer. That, coupled with a consistent strength training program, hip mobility exercises, a few workouts to keep the legs moving, and daily core workouts, I'm very confident heading into the season.
3. How did your track season influence what you did over the summer, and did the success of your spring directly alter or ramp up some of the things you thought you would do?
Coming off of track, I felt like I was in the best shape of my life, but I know I needed a break. After a week or two, I started running again at a greater intensity than last year. My plan going into the summer would not have changed if track went differently. Since freshman year I planned to be at the point I'm at by now so it's encouraging to know it's all paying off.
"I told myself last year that I wanted to be one of the guys in the preseason rankings that are being talked about to win national championships because that's really the only goal left to accomplish."
4. How would you describe what you were able to accomplish this spring? Did you hit all the goals you set for yourself -- what was the biggest one, and how did you celebrate achieving it?
I'm most happy with my 3K/3200/2-mile times this season, as those times are what really defined my season to me. Time wise, I accomplished my goal of a 3200/2-mile around 8:50. However, I would have liked to improve my 1600M time of 4:09. Other than time, I'm glad about how I did place wise in a lot of races.
Winning Penn Relays in the 3K set a tone for the season that carried through to the Meet of Champions. My biggest accomplishment had to be the 2-mile/3200M double I pulled off, going from Brooks to the MOC (Meet of Champions). That tested my physical and mental fortitude quite a lot, giving me confidence heading into cross country-though it would have been nice to win Brooks).
5. Is there anything you didn't successfully hit goal-wise?
Like I said, I would have liked to run a faster mile, but I did not actively seek out fast races to do so. Personally, I felt like I could've run 4:07 or better if I ran the Brooks PR mile like I was originally assigned to do.
6. Much has been made of your cross country journey, from Brooks PR to the NJ Meet of Champs -- in your mind, were you frantic about the proposition of that 24-hour crossover, or were you calmer than people gave you credit for?
Many people told me I would not be able to pull of the double, especially with the red eye flight as a factor, but I remained calm and trusted my training. I'm a big proponent of mental toughness and training aspects of that. Throughout the year I trained in that area to be able to handle such a mental and physiological stress.
7. How did you body truly feel in that second 3200m? Scale of 1 to 10, how much did it hurt, or did anyone pull you along?
Probably around a 7 or 8. I felt much better than I thought I would have, considering the food I ate prior and the lack of sleep. I drafted off the leaders for around a mile and a quarter then started moving. It didn't feel too tough, to be honest. Will Hare of Princeton definitely helped pull me along for a while there.
8. Nobody really talked about that 14:44.05 5K from NBNO, but in all honesty, that was incredible, too, No. 13 in the country. What did that race tell you about yourself looking forward to this fall?
It told me that I was not in cross country shape and or that I was tired from the track season. I'm disappointed with the result as it was not the time or place I was looking for, but it made me realize there is always room for improvement.
"I decided that I wanted to be a part of a regional and national meet that had a history and legacy rather than a meet that is basically a cash grab to get people to buy more Nike products."
9. A year ago, you had a breakout XC campaign, dropping your first sub-15 5K and dominating New Jersey competition. What did it tell you about yourself?
It told me that I needed to expand my horizons competitively and start competing at a national level consistently. I told myself last year that I wanted to be one of the guys in the preseason rankings that are being talked about to win national championships because that's really the only goal left to accomplish.
Last year also had me realize that I'm on the brink of doing something to be remembered for as a runner. If I train just a little harder or recover a little better, I told myself, I will be among the best in the country, no doubt.
10. What moment from the 2017 fall season really stood out for you and why?
The MOC victory hands down has to be the most memorable to me. To be a MOC winner in cross country is the pinnacle of what New Jersey running has to offer, and I'm glad that the NJ running community, my team, coaches, family, and friends were there to see it.
11. Decision to race Foot Locker Northeast as opposed to NXR Northeast?
I decided that I wanted to be a part of a regional and national meet that had a history and legacy rather than a meet that is basically a cash grab to get people to buy more Nike products.
If it was my decision, I would combine both meets and hold one national championship with both teams and individuals similar to the NCAA championships, but we all know Nike won't do that.
12. Same plan for 2018, or do dates conflict?
I plan to run Foot Locker again and prove that the TRUE national champion comes from that meet.
13. Qualifying for Foot Locker Nationals had to be a big moment. Then finishing 10th must have been exhilarating. Did it all go by too quick? What did you learn about the experience? What was the biggest thing you took away from that weekend?
That 10th place finish off of a 6th place finish at regionals was a surprise, but a welcome one, of course. The days in San Diego went by pretty quickly, but I'm glad I got to experience such a meet my junior year. The biggest takeaway had to be that I had a lot of work to do if I wanted to be the first one crossing that line next year.
14. First time out west? Comparatively speaking, did you get a chance to check out the waves? East coast or West coast waves? What do you prefer?
While at Coronado, the ocean was pretty calm so I didn't get a chance to really check out the waves too much, but I'd say the East Coast.
15. You're of the top returners in the country in 2018, so what are your hopes, expectations and big-picture dreams for this season?
- Win Foot Locker Nationals
- Set a few course records
- Defend my MOC title
- Prove to the country that enough hard work and dedication can beat any talent out there.
16. On a scale of 1 to 10, how good are the bagels in New Jersey, and what's your favorite?
10, Egg bagel from Baron's or Delicious Bagels with some cream cheese.