ROXBURY, Mass. -- UMass Dartmouth junior George Papoulis (Haverhill, Mass.) earned his second straight All-America honor in the 800 meters on Saturday afternoon, as he finished as the national runner-up in the event Saturday afternoon at the 2019 NCAA Division III Men’s Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Reggie Lewis Center.
Papoulis shattered Matt Hinthorne’s school record in the event with a stunning kick down the backstretch, as he posted a time of 1:50.78 to top Hinthorne’s previous best (1:51.64) by nearly a full second. Wisconsin-Eau Claire junior Kyler Lueck took the national title with a meet record time of 1:49.60, as Papoulis topped Southern Maine sophomore Zachariah Hoyle’s third place mark of 1:51.17. The trio’s times combined to break the previous record of 1:51.30 set by Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s McKena Ramos in 2014.
Papoulis, who was in fourth place heading into the bell lap, surged past SUNY-Geneseo’s Gillan Faulkner on the backstretch and kicked past Hoyle en route to his runner-up performance. George finished fourth in last year’s national championship race in Birmingham, Ala., as he now holds both the school indoor and outdoor record in the 800 meters.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Papoulis said following the race. “I just felt an extra surge in that final lap and relied on my training right to the finish. That last kick was all heart—it was all mental. I knew I could do it—I really trained hard and really wanted this.”
“We knew it was going to be a fight going in, and just like yesterday, George put himself into a position to succeed,” Corsair Head Coach Mike Salem said of Papoulis. “It’s a credit to him and to (assistant coach) Steve Gardiner for all of the hard work they put in starting last year and carrying it over to this season.”
“Last year he was in a good position, and today he had to really overcome a tough beginning,” Gardiner said. “He made some great moves to put himself into position heading into the stretch, and he really worked hard to push himself at the end.”