BRISTOL - Bristol Eastern runner Joe Hardin is excelling early on in his track and field career as a sophomore.
In the CCC South championships, Hardin delivered with a first place finish in the 400-meter race.
“It feels good to have finished first place and represent my school,” Hardin said. “I was kind of nervous at first before the race. But I really feel like I tried my best and achieved what I wanted to.”
It’s a sign of his improvement in the event, a big one from just his freshman to sophomore years.
“I’ve improved a lot in the 400,” Hardin said. “I started running it freshman year and I struggled to make it into states. But now I’ve reduced my time about two seconds, which is a lot in the 400.”
Part of his motivation to excel in track comes from his family history in the sport.
“Everybody on my father’s side [of the family] did track and my dad was a really good jumper,” Hardin said. “And even though I’m not jumping, I want to live up to his legacy of doing track.”
Hardin’s dad, Prescott Hardin, also ran in the 400-meter race in his track days in Chicago.
Joe is already closing in on the best time his dad raced in his senior outdoor season. His dad’s time in the 400 was 49.00. Joe is at 51.71 in the event now.
“I know my dad is really proud of me,” Hardin said. “He likes to see that I’m doing track and following in his footsteps.”
Hardin participates in cross country, indoor and outdoor track. He believes participating in the three has helped him become even better at the 400.
“I feel like with all the other events, especially the sprinting events, it’s difficult to get better at,” Hardin said. “But with the 400, it’s a lot to do with distance and sprinting and I feel like you can work a lot of the distance part if you have the sprinting down; so it comes a lot to do with the endurance and how much you have at the end and if you’re willing to kick it and drive.”
Hardin has already caught the eyes of his teammates with his success and the first place finish at the CCC South championships may be the start to many impressive finishes in the coming years.
“It’s amazing how fast he runs as a sophomore,” senior captain Mason Poirier said. “He’s got so much time to improve and he’s already so good. He’s going against people that are upperclassmen and he’s just running faster than them. It’s amazing.
“He’s always run fast, but he’s getting faster and faster as time goes on. It’s the way he trains. He puts 100 percent every time he practices and motivates everybody around him because he’s so confident in everything he does.”
Some of his teammates are in awe of what he has accomplished already and the potential he still has to get even better with his junior and senior seasons remaining.
“He’s just a great talent,” fellow sophomore Dylan Braccia said. “There’s no other words to describe him, he’s just so good.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org