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Tuesday, March 8, 2011 - page 2

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NCAA Championships Preview
Rice ready to compete with the best

Peter Rice has grown accustomed to running alone this season.

The Centennial Conference's most outstanding track athlete, Rice has made convincing wins appear routine. He captured the CC 200-meter crown by more than half a second and was a full second faster than his closest competition in the 400, which in the sprinting world feels like an eternity.

So it has been hard for Rice to judge just how fast he can go. But he will finally get that chance when he gets in the blocks against the top 400-meter runners in the country this Friday and Saturday at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.

Peter Rice
Rice owns the Muhlenberg records for the 200 and 400 and is also a part of the school record-holding 4x200 and distance medley relay teams.
The junior has won every 400 race he has entered this season except one. He finished second at the Lafayette-Rider games to a sprinter from Neumann who will also be making the trip to Ohio. But Rice was in a different heat at that event, so he did not have the opportunity to try to track him down.

"When there are people around you, I don't want to say it's easier, but it's a lot more exciting and you get the real competition aspect of the sport," Rice said. "It can almost will you to run faster because you can see your competitors and you don't want to let them get by you."

Rice will travel to Ohio with some experience on his side. While this will be his first individual trip to the NCAA Championships, he was a part of Muhlenberg's 2009 distance medley relay team that finished fourth in the country.

Just a freshman at the time, Rice said he had no clue what he was getting into. But now that he's returning for the second time, he said he will not get caught up in the moment and feels confident he will be able to perform well on the highest stage.

"Everybody's there for the same purpose," Rice said. "On a week-to-week basis, there are meets where people are training through them or it's just a throw-away meet. But this is what it's all about, and everybody is there to see what they can do.

"It's really pretty special to have so many great athletes going all out to try to win a national championship."

Rice is currently seeded ninth out of 13 entrants in the 400. His time of 49.17, the CC record, is 1.2 seconds off the top time.

But that gap does not faze him. Rice has won every 400 heat he has entered this season, and said he is looking forward to testing himself against the fastest field in the country.

And while Rice admitted he would obviously love to win, he said his only hope is that he runs his best race possible. Even if that means he leaves Ohio without a medal, he said he could return to Allentown satisfied knowing that he can compete with the best Division III has to offer.

"I went into this season without any expectations," Rice said. "I've stopped setting time goals because I think it sort of subconsciously limits you. I have no expectations other than to not be disappointed. If I'm happy with my race, then that's a success. We'll just see how far that takes me."
Click here for the championship site.

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