Ryan Wilson Shatters NCAA Division III Records in the Indoor 1-Mile and 800 Meter Distances

Wilson runs massive personal bests at meets held at the Boston University Track

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Ryan Wilson Shatters Mile and 800 meter indoor records
Courtesy of MIT Athletics

Ryan Wilson ’22 obliterated the NCAA Division III Records in the Indoor 1-Mile and the 800 meter events at the meets held at Boston University. On Feb. 10, Wilson ran a 3:55.29 at the David Hemery Valentine Invite, well below the vaunted four-minute barrier and more than a full second ahead of the previous record. Two weeks later, at the Last Chance Indoor National Qualifier, Wilson ran a 1:46.61, topping a record set exactly 11 years prior by Ben Scheetz of Amherst College.

Last year, Wilson was the NCAA Division III National Champion in both the Indoor and Outdoor 800 meter event. Prior to his record-breaking race, only two other runners in the history of Division III had run below four minutes in the mile. Wilson himself had yet to crack the four minute barrier during his collegiate career. Before the race, Wilson said that he was “focus[ed] on winning rather than the clock.” 

As the race got underway, he was under 4-minute pace by halfway. “The crowd was roaring and I had more adrenaline than I’ve ever felt in my life,” Wilson said. “I gave everything I had through the line.”

Wilson said breaking four minutes in the mile was “a lifetime goal that I’ve dreamed about for my entire running career.” He attributed his success to “a commitment to a running oriented lifestyle,” highlighting that “the support I got from my teammates and the crowd made it a moment in my life I’ll never forget.” 

According to Wilson, setting the 800 meter record was “ the icing on the cake.” He said that the 3:55 mile demonstrated that he was in “great shape” and capable of running a fast 800 meter race. Before the 800 meter race, Wilson “felt kind of sick,” and “there wasn’t the same atmosphere” from the mile. Despite this, Wilson said that setting the 800 meter record “was still incredibly gratifying and showed my mile time wasn’t a fluke.” 

Wilson, a fifth year athlete granted an additional year of eligibility by the NCAA, had to deal with significant adversity before achieving these milestones. 

Wilson stated that he had “a tough freshman year due to some heart problems” that have since been resolved.  In the middle of sophomore year, COVID-19 struck, resulting in the cancellation of the outdoor track season. Wilson said that the abrupt turn of events “left me with a lot of what-ifs,” but he “chose to use the time over quarantine to hone in on my training.” 

The 2020-2021 season was also canceled, leaving a one and half year gap in competition for Wilson. Regardless, Wilson remained “grateful for the seasons to come” and made him “eager to compete once the pandemic ended.” 

With regards to the rest of the indoor season and the upcoming outdoor season, Wilson said that he wants to “help my team win the NCAA Indoor and Outdoor team titles.” He added that he is “looking to run the outdoor 800 meter and 1500 meter Division III records,” and also intends to compete at the US National Championships. 

Looking towards long-term plans, Wilson is still considering whether to transfer to a Division 1 school or make the leap to the professional level. “I’ll eventually put my MIT degree to use,” Wilson said, but he wants to “try out this running thing while I’m still young.” 

The 2023 NCAA Division III Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships will be held on March 10-11 at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Alabama. Wilson is entered to run in the 1-mile, the 3000 meter run, and the Distance Medley relay.