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Friday, June 21, 2024
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School record-holder Tal Hamel on his UB running career

Hamel is the school record-holder in the indoor 300m and second all-time in the outdoor 200m

<p>Tal Hamel is a junior sprinter.</p>

Tal Hamel is a junior sprinter.

Tal Hamel came to UB unsure of what he wanted to study, but he knew he wanted to run collegiate track and field. 

It’s safe to say he made a good decision. 

Hamel’s belief in himself has played a crucial role in the results he’s produced on the track.

Coming to the end of his junior season, Hamel is the school record-holder in the indoor 300m with a time of 33.99 seconds and now second all-time in the outdoor 200m with a time of 21.02 seconds.

 “Coming into outdoor, we didn’t really know what kind of shape I was in,” Hamel said. “But to have that drop in time like that, around that point of the season, it was a big eye opener for my coach to be like, ‘Oh no, we’re rolling. We’re good.”’

Hamel’s freshman year — his first season at UB — was no different. He was named the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Freshman Track Performer of the Year at the MAC outdoor championships, placing third overall in the 400m before helping the 4x100 meter relay earn the bronze medal. 

As for arriving at UB, Hamel credited his older brother, and he felt that it was a place where he could thrive. 

“My older brother came here his freshman year, so it was something that was familiar,” Hamel said. “I knew I always wanted to run D-I. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do major-wise, but I knew that I wanted to run D-I.” 

Hamel is currently .07 seconds off the school record in the 200m and admitted that it’s motivating him to continue trying to move up UB’s all-time leaderboards.

“Coming in, I looked at the leaderboards and wanted to just get as high as I could,” Hamel said. “I knew after last year I could have a good chance of breaking both the school records, but just that it would come with time and good execution in races.” 

Despite his success at the collegiate level, Hamel had to overcome a fair amount of adversity to get where he is today.

Hamel was a latecomer to track and field. He grew up in a northern New Hampshire school system that didn’t offer track. It wasn’t until his family moved to New York that he started to consider the sport seriously.  

His freshman year at UB also had its bumps. Hamel’s debut season was derailed after contracting a virus halfway through, which forced him to take time off before working his way back, but Hamel remained even-keeled throughout the process. 

“It’s very natural for that to happen,” Hamel said. “It was definitely one of the bigger things my freshman year that I came across, but I was happy I was able to work through it and rally back.”

In high school, it was a different kind of virus that set Hamel back. His senior season was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as his school didn’t have any sports in the fall. Determined to keep running, he moved to Virginia Beach with his aunt and uncle in December, according to an interview Hamel did with the Times Union in 2021.

Hamel took classes remotely and trained on a workout plan given to him by his high school’s track coach, Darnell Douglas. Coach Douglas wanted to find a way for his runner to compete, and he was the one who came up with the idea for Hamel to move down south. The two still have a close relationship today. 

“My high school coach is still a mentor that I talk to frequently,” Hamel said. “He’s someone that really introduced me to the sport and just kind of took over. He became not only one of my closest role models but a really close friend of mine.” 

Even with Hamel moving to Virginia Beach, the restrictions of the pandemic remained, as he only had two races to put down a time that would help him get recruited by colleges. He came through with a time of 35.21 in his first meet, and it was enough to get schools like UB interested. 

He believes the reason why he was able to accomplish his goal with limited opportunities was due to Coach Douglas’ training plan, and his mental preparation before races. 

“I look at races as an accumulation of my practice,” Hamel said. “I just trust myself and back the hundreds of hours of training I’ve done, and everything will take care of itself.” 

With Hamel’s belief in himself and his training, his eye is now on the upcoming MAC championships and potentially beyond this season before his senior season starts next winter. 

“I’m just building off of what I’ve already done,” Hamel said. “I think it’s any [track] athlete’s dream to be top-48 in the region for an event. It’s a pretty big accomplishment, and especially if I can do it in my junior year, I’ll hopefully have bigger aspirations for next year.”

Henry Daley is an assistant sports editor and can be reached at henry.daley@ubspectrum.com  


HENRY DALEY
henry-daley.jpg

Henry Daley is an assistant sports editor at The Spectrum. His work has featured on other platforms such as Medium and Last Word on Sports. Outside of the newspaper, he enjoys running and watching sports (when he’s not writing about them). 

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