As Devin Hart crossed the finish line with his sixth overall Meet of Champions title you could see emotions of celebration, relief, and a that a great high school career had come full circle.
The Stanford University bound Pt. Pleasant Boro senior became just the second boy to win three straight outdoor 3200m titles. Murad Campbell of Overbrook won three straight from 1997 to 1999.
"This race means more than anything to me," Hart reflected post-race, "and to come out here and win this against an incredibly talented field... it's just awesome."
Hart was two wide with Jack Stanley of Mendham around 500 meters to go and still had three strong contenders on his back at 400 meters. Once the bell rang it though seemed as though something was unleashed for the six-time champ and he left the rest of the field in the dust with a 60.1 final split. He crossed the finish in first with seven seconds of room to spare at 9:03.07.
"Every Meet of Champs race this year, whether cross country or indoor with Stanley and Murphy, I experienced both winning by a little bit and losing by a little bit. I didn't want to be in that situation again," Hart explained, "On that last lap I just trusted my training and mental toughness, just thought of everything I've been through these last few years and I wanted to really go out with a bang and win this thing."
Hart gave a lot of credit to how strong this 3200m field has grown this year, which added to how special the win was.
Hart has won six Meet of Champions titles between all three running seasons with two cross country wins, one indoor 3200m title, and three outdoor 3200m titles. He's been winning these since sophomore year and that much success that early can come with added pressures, such having to defend year in and year out with you being the standard to beat.
This past winter he added a New Balance Nationals Indoor 3200m National Championship to his resume bouncing back from his split second loss to Liam Murphy during this past winter's MOCs race where they recorded times of 8:54.22 and 8:54.45. During cross country Hart had another split second finish, this time on the winning side over Jack Stanley with the same recorded time of 15:36 over the Holmdel Park 5K. Liam Murphy, the eventual 2019 indoor 3200m champ mentioned above, was third in that race.
When asked about what this six win legacy means to him Hart responded with, "It means a ton, since sophomore year I've been on top and it's great to finish out back where I was... I wore the same uniform I did sophomore year on purpose today, come full circle."
While Hart has raced in National Championship events and won plenty of State titles over the years you could sense this one meant something special.
"This race today meant more than anything to me, any other race whether it be Nationals or Penn or any other Meet of Champs titles this just means more than anything."
With his last high school race on New Jersey soil in the books Hart is looking to have some fun and a solid final race at the Brooks PR Invite. He did reiterate though that this Meet of Champions win was the real cap on his season, anything going forward would just be icing on the cake.