Taking his place atop the podium at the Ivy League indoor track and field championships last weekend to accept Yale’s first Most Outstanding Performer award since 1990, James Randon ’17 cemented his place as one of the University’s all-time great runners.
Randon, a Connecticut native and four-year member of Yale’s cross country and track teams, already held a pair of Yale records before entering his senior season. But the first Bulldog to ever run a mile in under four minutes made sure that he would not go out without a bang in his final year at Yale, adding a conference cross country championship and an indoor track Most Outstanding Performer honor, among others, to his already-impressive resume.
“I’m so proud to have been able to rep — and still for a little while longer — the Y,” Randon said. “This team has a special place in collegiate track and field history and to be able to be among past Olympic gold medalists in our rich history means the world to me.”
In his final cross country season, Randon was named captain and led both the team and the conference on the race course. After taking first place at both the Princeton Invite and the annual Harvard-Yale-Princeton tri-meet, he ended his season with a historic first-place finish at the Ivy League Championships, recording a 3:43.84 time and becoming the first Eli to take gold at the title meet since Jim Gibson ’90 won in 1989.
With the victory, Randon took home first-team All-Ivy honors for the second straight cross country season. Randon later earned a spot at NCAA Nationals, earning All-Region honors in the process.
“It’s obvious that James is a great runner based on the number of titles he has won, but what people don’t see is the daily actions that James takes to make himself and his teammates better athletes,” 2017 cross country captain Adam Houston ’18 said. “He’s a true student of his sport … James is always excited to spread his love of running to others and wants to bring this team to the next level.”
The senior’s cross country season only foreshadowed what was to come in the indoor season. Randon competed in a multitude of events, including the 1500-meter run, the mile run, the 4×800 relay and the 3000-meter run, the last of which he competed in at the Ivy Championships.
On an incredible day for the men’s team, as the Bulldogs placed fourth and scored their highest point total since 1991, Randon was at the forefront of his team’s success. He took home first place in the 3000 meters, with teammate Andre Ivankovic ’17 taking second. Later, Randon and Ivankovic, along with Greg Moschella ’20 and Matt Chisholm ’18, took home first in the distance medley while scorching their nearest competitor by 4.5 seconds.
These performances were more than enough to earn Randon the Most Outstanding Performer award, capping an indoor season that proved to be one of the best in recent school memory for both him and his teammates.
“It was the most amazing meet I’ve ever participated in,” he said. “Our team as a whole outperformed the predictions by a long shot, and we were briefly winning the meet and ultimately finished just a few points shy of third. Winning the MOP was amazing, and really I was happy I had the opportunity to help out the team in every way I could.”
Randon will get a chance to carry his momentum from the indoor season to the outdoor track, where he represented Yale with an All-American honor and an eighth-place finish in the 1500-meter run at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in 2016.
According to teammates and coaches, Randon’s competitive spirit has catalyzed his success throughout his collegiate career, as Randon saves many of his best performances for high-pressure races.
“I think I can speak for the team when I say we hold tremendous respect for James as a leader, role model and friend,” distance runner Spike Sievert ’17 said. “James is a fiery competitor and I don’t think he’s ever started a race without the intent of winning it. What drives his success, I think, is simply his love of racing and winning. He is not just a fast runner: he is a competitor.”
Entering Yale, Randon set out to break the four-minute barrier in the mile, which he did last year in a mind-blowing 3:58.85 run at the 2016 IC4A Championships. With this program record has come success in other events, including a Yale-best 3:40.15 time in the 1500-meter run. A history major, Randon has also displayed his well-roundedness as a student-athlete, garnering NCAA All-Academic individual honors in cross country alongside the rest of the 2016 squad.
After Randon tosses his cap in May, he will have officially sealed his storied legacy at the University. However, graduation will not represent the end of the young runner’s career.
“[I plan] to run professionally [after school],” Randon said. “I don’t know where or with what shoe company, but I will figure it out fairly quickly post-graduation.”
Randon’s next appearance on the track will come in Yale’s outdoor season debut on March 25.