The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Leading teammates while breaking records: Luke Blair does it all for UMW track and field

3 min read
Four UMW men track and field runners stand side by side with arms around each other. They are wearing navy blue track uniforms that say, "UMW."

From left to right: Jacob Lohr, Luke Blair, Ashton Shultz and Aidan Kimener after breaking the Mary Washington record for the 4x1500m relay. | @umw_xctf, Instagram


Opinion Editor

On Jan. 19, the UMW indoor track and field season opened at the Virginia Wesleyan University Marlins Invitational. Luke Blair, a sophomore computer science major, finished second place in the men’s 800 meter race with a time of 2:06.68. On Jan. 20, Blair finished second in the mile race at 4:36.79.

But Blair was unsatisfied with his times during the indoor track and field season, so he started focusing on the more nuanced aspects of his training at the end of the season.

“I put my foot down a little bit more and just started focusing on smaller things like stretching and rolling my legs every single night, elevating my legs every single night, doing strides after every single easy run, and I’ve added little thing by little thing,” said Blair. 

Between the indoor and outdoor seasons, Blair took his time to stay consistent to improve his times. 

“We had a five-week grace period going into outdoor [season], and in those five weeks I just hammered down on the little things,” said Blair. “Seeing the work I’ve done over those weeks show in the meets, that’s definitely a highlight for me.”

Blair’s consistency and dedication reflected during his outdoor season. On March 25, the Coast-to-Coast Athletic Conference honored him as the Men’s Track Athlete of the Week. 

He was recognized for his performances at the Doc Jopson Invitational at Bridgewater College where he finished first place in the 1500-meter race with a time of 4:03.85. The following weekend, Blair participated in the 4×1500 meter relay with freshman Ashton Shultz, senior environmental science major Jacob Lohr and sophomore biomedical sciences major Aidan Kimener at the Colonial Relays at William and Mary. They broke the university record time for this relay, running a 17:20.18.

To improve for the outdoor season, Blair set rigid expectations in his personal training schedule. 

“What I did is I decided every single easy run is just going to be 55 minutes, and there’s no ‘buts’ or ‘corner cuts’ or anything like that. It’s just what it is,” he said. 

For other athletes who want to improve, Blair offered some tough love advice. 

“What I want people to pick up on is just that there’s a set schedule and that should be the norm,’ he said. “There is no, ‘I’m going to go less than that today; I’m not feeling too great’ [or] ‘I’m going to go more today; I feel great.’ It’s just this.”

Blair’s success hasn’t come without difficulties, but seeing his work pay off has inspired him to keep on the same path. 

“I’d say the biggest challenge for me is just keeping myself disciplined and humble in the track season so that I don’t lose out on any of the small things that I did, because the thing that motivated me the most … was my bad indoor season,” he said. “And now that I’m having success, I don’t want to say, ‘I’m in a good spot, I can just chill.’ I want to stay disciplined.”

Despite being an underclassman, Blair has already become a role model on the young team. 

“Our team dynamic is interesting because we had a big graduating class two years ago and COVID definitely dwindled the numbers a little bit, too, so right now we don’t have any seniors,” said Blair. “It’s just underclassmen and two juniors. We have a very young team so the dynamic is pretty interesting.”

Blair recommended ways that improving athletes can find success. 

“I hope people pick up that routine and consistency are the most important things in becoming a good athlete,” he said. 

Through his discipline on the track and his attention to detail in his personal training, Blair hopes to assume greater leadership next year.

“I want to see myself become more of a leader figure on the team as I move into becoming an upperclassman,” he said.

Blair continued, “I think my performances have given my name a little bit of credibility, I would assume. Me and my other teammate, Jacob [Lohr], we kind of already had the largest say on the guy’s team. I think just us working together and taking charge of warm-ups and race day and everything like that, that’s going to be how I fulfill that role.”