GULF SHORES — With four members qualifying, including All-American favorite Tanner Boone, the marathon was set to be the keystone event for the Argos at the 2017 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field Championship. The event didn’t disappoint, producing the highest placing All-American in the history of the UGF men’s outdoor track & field, along with another top 20 finisher.
The star of the race for UGF was Boone, a senior and ex-Greenwave cross country and track star. It was Boone’s second straight year running in the national marathon and the senior was looking to improve on his 13th place performance in 2016. When he ran the event as a junior, it was not only his first trip to the NAIA national meet, it was also his first full marathon. Having both of those things under his belt was a big help for the runner who entered the 2017 event ranked sixth in the nation.
“The experience was amazing. I didn’t do my race plan at all last year. I went out a lot slower, and this year I went out a lot more aggressively,” Boone said. “I also knew that I had the strength and what it took to be able to do the second loop that they have, a lot better and a lot quicker than most people.”
That aggressive start and confident attitude had Boone towards the front of the pack the whole way, but as he found out, that was no guarantee of crossing the finish line. As the race was coming to a close, Boone saw a former high school teammate struggling ahead of him. He passed his friend, thinking that the pass moved him from fifth to fourth.
Like any good marathon runner, by the end of the race, Boone was facing significant physical ailments. He said he couldn’t feel his legs or his feet down the final stretch but after the pass, fans began to tell the Argo runner that he was in third and his mind was sharp enough to know that didn’t sound right.
“I thought, this must be some kind of alternative math because I knew I was in fifth, and I just passed a person so I should be in fourth,” Boone said. “Apparently, the guy that was in the front ended up dropping to his knees and passing out before the finish line. That’s the difference in the marathon, you don’t really have guys getting taken off on a stretcher in other events.”
Boone fought through the grind and crossed the finish line in 2:41:34.40, good for third place in the event. His bronze finish makes him the fourth Argo All-American and the highest placing Argo at a national meet in the history of the outdoor track & field program.
“It’s really great. It’s something I’ve wanted to do my whole career. It’s a blessing,” Boone said. “I also wanted to get third, because obviously in the Olympics that’s a medal. That means a lot to me. I like the number three. And we’re from a Catholic school and three is the Trinity, so that’s pretty cool.”