Feature Friday: Dylan Decambre Among NJ's Brightest Stars

If you're putting together a list of NJ's most impressive boys track and field athletes through the first half of this season, Dylan Decambre's name has to be listed right near the very top.

The senior at Bergen County Tech, who is coming off a breakout All-State XC campaign, has been burning up the track this season!

Combining his unique blend of power and speed to go with his unrelenting work ethic, Decambre has raced his way to the very top of the state leaderboard at three distances, the 600, 800, and the 1,000.

In the Liberty Division Championships at the the Big North Championships on Jan. 11 at Ocean Breeze, Decambre blasted a NJ  No. 1 1:55.98, just off his outdoor PR of 1:55.56.

This past Saturday, he took over the No. 1 spots in the state in both the 600 (1:22.02), and the 1,000 (2:30.24) when he won both of those races at the U.S. Army Officials Hall of Fame Invitational at the NY Armory.  Decambre's 1:22.02 is also No. 6 in the nation this season, and his 2:30.24 is US No. 8 this winter.      

Decambre's impressive resume also includes a 4:23.72 mile this season, and a 16:15 PR at Holmdel Park when he was seventh at the State Group 4 XC Championships. 

NJ MileSplit recently caught up with Decambre in between workouts to get his thoughts on his amazing double last Saturday, how she got started in the sport, his quest to win his first Meet of Champions title, his goals for the remainder of this season, and a whole lot more.

So lean back in your fancy recliner next to the fireplace or grab your favorite spot on the couch and enjoy our latest installment of Feature Friday as we shine the spotlight on Dylan Decambre,  one of the biggest stars in the state.

NJM: First off, congrats on your remarkable double at the US Army Officials Hall of Fame last weekend at the NY Armory. What are your thoughts on the NJ No. 1 times you ran in the 600 (1:22.02) and the 1,000 (2:30.24) and the way you raced? I know you must be ecstatic with your performances!

I was very joyful with my performances on Saturday. Seeing that I had run two New Jersey No. 1 times at the conclusion of the meet made me feel special and has given me a lot of motivation for the rest of the season. I was proud of how I paced and took over each race at the right time to pull off the wins.

How much time did you have between races, and how much, if any, did that impact the way you raced in your second race of the day?

I had a good amount of time between my races with the 2-hour separation. The 1k being first was definitely ideal, given that the 600 was more fast-paced and didn't require the same aerobic energy. The 2-hour downtime was enough for me to be fully prepared for the 600 and allowed me to run two high-quality races that day.

You are now NJ No. 1 in the 800 (1:55.98), the 600, and 1,000, and your times in the 600 and 1,000 are both in the US Top No. 10. What does that mean to you, Dylan, to see your name listed on the top of the state leaderboard and near the top of the national board? 

It has always been a dream of mine since junior track to reach the top of the state and national leaderboards, so finally being able to fulfill that has meant so much to me. Seeing my name up there gives me motivation and hope for what is to come, but makes me appreciate the hard work I had put in the past to get to this point. 

MORE: New Jersey Boys 800m Rankings

I know you've also run 4:23 and change in the 1,600 this season, so I'm curious what you think your strongest race is and why?

I think my strongest race as of right now is the 1,000m. It blends my mile strength/endurance and 800m speed/speed endurance very well. Also, I think I will drop a lot of time in the 1600m this season, as I just started running it last Spring. 

Since the 600 and 1,000 aren't run a whole lot, can you tell us what the strategy/race plan was for those races? Do you run the 600 like it's an 800? How about the 1K?

The 600 and 1,000-meter events are probably my favorite aspects of indoor track since they are such rare events, and no one really knows how to run them. I treated the 600 like an 800 with a much faster first lap and the 1K like an extended, slightly slower 800. I basically based both events on the 800.

You've already cut 4 seconds off your 600 PR and sliced 8 seconds off your 1,000 from last year, so I'm wondering if you're surprised by the times you are running this season? Or did you feel like they were coming after the great XC season you had? 

Over the last 7 months, I've been training the best and more efficiently than I ever had before. The good XC season I had showcased that, but most of the training was geared towards the track season. I set goals of breaking 1:23 in the 600m and 2:30 in the 1,000m six months ago and worked hard to achieve those times. I haven't broken 2:30 yet, but I will get one more chance in a later meet this season. To answer your question, I am not surprised because these times have been on my mind for several months.

What are your biggest goals for the rest of this indoor season and for the outdoor season? What kind of times are you hoping to hit indoors and outdoors in all your races?

My biggest goals for this indoor season are to perform exceptionally well at states and nationals. This indoor season, I want to run sub 1:53 in the 800m and sub 4:16 in the mile/1600m. I don't like to have too many things cloud my mind, so I haven't started to think about outdoor marks and achievements. However, I expect myself during outdoors to win as many titles as possible and run top times in the state and country.

Every track and field athlete in the state dreams of winning a Meet of Champions title. After placing third in the 800 last spring at the M of C, how much of a goal is it for you to win a M of C title, and how much would that mean to you?

Winning SMOCs is my top goal this indoor season. Winning it would make me feel like I fulfilled a part of my youth track self and fulfilled something for everyone who believed in me throughout my journey (especially my coaches and teammates).

What do you consider your greatest strengths as a track and field athlete?

As a track and field athlete, the greatest strength I have is a positive mindset. I don't let little inconveniences knock me off my larger dreams or desires. For example, I got injured at the XC State Meet of Champs last November with a quad injury. This injury limited me for over a month, but I kept a positive mindset about the situation and didn't let the injury affect me mentally. Because of my positive mindset about the situation, I came back on the track faster and stronger than ever.

What do you love the most about the sport of track and field? 

I love how much track has connected me with others, whether it be my teammates or other athletes I compete against. I love my team and the great coaches I've had. 

When are you racing next and what are your goals for that meet? 

I'm racing next at the Varsity Classic at the NY Armory on February 6th. The only event I know I'm running in is the DMR, so I want to lead my relay to the win and break our school record.

Let's rewind the clock a little. How and when did you first become involved in the sport of track and field? 

I started track and field when I was 8 years old. I played soccer and a mix of other sports, such as swimming and tennis up to that point in my life, and felt like running was my greatest athletic attribute. My mother got me into track because she loves the sport and ran track back in High School. My first ever event was actually an 800m. 

When was your first big breakthrough moment when you realized that you had the potential to be a great track and field/XC athlete?

My first breakthrough moment was when I ran a 2:01 800m sophomore year at State Sectionals.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment in XC/track and field so far, and what made that performance so meaningful to you?

My greatest accomplishment so far was winning the USATF Outdoor Youth Nationals in the 800m in July 2022. This performance was so meaningful because it capped off a season with many highs and lows in the greatest way (winning a national event). 

How much time do you spend watching videos of pro or college athletes, and who do you watch, and what have you learned from watching them? 

I spend a lot of time watching Clayton Murphy and Nick Symmonds on youtube. I learn a lot of training methods and workouts from Clayton and enjoy the fun part of track that Nick Symmonds highlights in his videos.  My favorite race I periodically go back to is the 2012 London Olympics 800m Finals, when David Rudisha set the 800m World Record in the greatest race I've ever seen.

Interview with Dylan Decambre after his Bergen MOCs win this last cross country season.

How about the future, Dylan? Have you made a college choice yet? If so, what was it about that school that made it the right fit for you? If not, what colleges have you visited, and what are you looking for in a college?  What do you plan to major in?

Right now, I am talking to a few college coaches and am deciding what place fits me best. I am looking for a balanced mix of academics and athletics at a college and plan to major in either architecture or civil engineering.

If you weren't a track and field athlete,  what sport would you be playing?

I would definitely be playing soccer year-round. It was my first sport and the sport I have played the most throughout my life.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years, I see myself making positive impacts on others' lives and having a successful career.

What advice would you give to younger track and field athletes who are just starting out in the sport?

My best advice to younger athletes is to stay persistent when starting out track. It's hard at first, but not giving up will make you a great track athlete and individual in the near future.