July 11, 2012

After Trials, Renee Tomlin keeps looking ahead

Sports Columnist

Renee Tomlin is in Europe. Less than two weeks after her attempts to qualify for the U.S.A. Olympic Team fell short, the Ocean City High School graduate is running in Belgium and Ireland in an effort to continue her running career.

Tomlin finished 15th in the 1500 meter semifinal race at the Olympic Trials in Eugene OR. The top 12 advanced to the final race, ending Tomlin's hopes of making the Olympic Team. Tomlin finished seventh in her heat and 17th overall in the opening race, advancing her to the semifinals. The Georgetown grad student earlier finished third running for Nike in the 1500 meter run at Icahn Stadium in New York City as part of the Road to London Twilight Series. That finish qualified her for the Olympic Trials.

It was definitely a great experience, Tomlin said earlier this week from Belgium. It was my first time at that level. I was pleased with my first round performance and very happy to get through to the semifinals. I tied by personal record in the semis but you really hope to better it against that competition. But I cant be too upset with the way I ran. There is certainly room to improve. But I needed to take a step back. I was running against the best in the country. It was important to get a handle on it.

Tomlin was a four-time All-American during her undergraduate years at Georgetown and a seven-time Big East champion. At Ocean City High School she won the Flagship Award as the top Cape-Atlantic League female athlete in the Class of 2006.

Tomlin finished third in the NJSIAA Meet of Champions in the 800 meters as a high school senior. She won the State Group 3 championship in the 1600 meters and was second in the 800. She was South Jersey champion in both events. That fall, in cross country, she finished second in the South Jersey Group 3 meet and sixth in the State Group 3 meet despite never having run cross country before.

As a junior, Tomlin was also South Jersey champion in the 800 and 1600 meters. She also anchored the 4x400 meter relay team that finished third. She went on to win the state championship in both the 800 and 1600 and anchored the relay team to a sixth place finish and a spot in the Meet of Champions. In the MOC, Tomlin finished second to future All-American Danielle Tauro of Southern Regional in the 1600 meters.

During her sophomore year, Tomlin was the South Jersey champion in the 800 meters and crossed the finish line first in the 4x400 meter relay, behind Erin Walsh, Molly Minehan and Allie Moreland. She won the 800 meters at the state meet and brought the relay team home fifth, qualifying for the MOC. Tomlin finished second in the MOC.

In addition to her running success, Tomlin was a two-time all-conference selection in swimming.

She won her heat in Belgium on Saturday. It was a slow race, she said, so I had to throw out the race plan. We were told there would be a rabbit in the race (a runner who sprints out fast, creating a quick pace) but there wasnt. But we made the best of it.

Travel has also been a challenge. I was on west coast time for the Olympic Trials, she said, then I was back on the east coast for a day or so. Now Im on European time. The body needs to adjust.

Tomlin graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in French and linguistics. She is one course shy of her masters degree. She interned with Nike last summer and has a small contract with the sportswear company.

Im not sure what is ahead, she said. Runners automatically look ahead four years to the next Olympics but Im not sure Ill still be running at a high level in 2016. I dont know if Ill be running next year. All Im sure of is that I have another race over here on July 14th.

When my running career does end, Id probably like to do something in the communications and marketing fields. But, right now, Im taking everything one step at a time.

An approach that has served her very well every step of the way.

Read more of Tom Williams' columns