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A scholar-athlete leaves a fresh trail of sprinting records

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R. J. Page explodes out of the starting blocks, his muscular arms pumping the air, straining for every inch of gain. It takes him 10.52 seconds to cover the 100-meter dash, but for the sprinter who’s been twice named Most Outstanding Track Performer at the America East Outdoor Championships and once at the Indoor Championships, it seems like a very long 10.52 seconds.

“People always say the 100 or 200 is so short, but for those of us running, it’s really not,” says Page (CAS’13, SMG’13). “It’s even tougher for us sprinters because the technical aspect is a lot more important than the 800 or the mile. I’m thinking constantly about holding my form, no matter how tired I get, and racing as strong as I can.”

Page has set several BU track and field team records: he holds the best time in the 200-meter dash (21.21) and shares with teammates the record for the 4×400 meter relay (3:08.41) and the 4×200 meter relay (1:24.24), among others. The speed, he says, begins with a mental effort to get in the zone.

“It’s crazy, because a lot of the time you’re competing, you don’t hear anything,” he says. “Before the gun goes off, the only thing I’m thinking about is the sound of the gun, because that’s when I know how to react. It’s very important to listen to the sound of the gun, and because you practice it so much, when you hear it, you know what to do.”

Student athlete RJ Page, Boston University BU Terriers men's track and field sprinter, E. Ray Speare Award scholar athlete

Page earned the Coaches Award at the America East Outdoor Championships two years in a row, after collecting more points than any other male competitor. Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Growing up in Swedesboro, N.J., Page says, he was known as “the fast kid,” but he didn’t start winning any championships until his last two years of high school.

“I was always better at basketball,” he says. “I thought, my parents thought, and everyone that knew me thought I was going to be playing basketball in college. Then I had a breakout season my junior year in track and field. I started winning championships, and by the end of the year, I won a state title in the 100-meter dash and the college letters started flocking in.”

Page was courted by Ivy League schools, along with the University of Maryland and nearby Rutgers University. Ultimately, he says, it came down to Columbia and BU. He knew that he wanted to live in a city, but wasn’t sure which of the two colleges to choose.

“I delayed visiting BU because I didn’t know too much about it,” Page says. “Then I came here and I was just amazed. Once I learned more about BU, I discovered how challenging it was academically, and that’s something that I definitely wanted. Also, I felt BU had a great community outside of the athletics department.”

Although injury took its toll during his first two seasons at BU, Page burst onto the scene in his third season as a redshirt sophomore. The year was highlighted by a trip to the Penn Relays, the oldest track and field competition in the country, and for Page, an especially sweet event.

Student athlete RJ Page, Boston University BU Terriers men's track and field sprinter, E. Ray Speare Award scholar athlete

Page (center) holds the school record in the 200-meter dash, with a time of 21.21. Photo by Doug Austin

“I had been going there since I was a kid,” he says. “Everyone goes there. It’s a big event. I think we took second or third overall in the 4×400 relay and almost broke a school record, but just to compete in that environment in front of my family and friends was special.”

Page has since won the Coaches Award at the America East Outdoor Championships twice and has competed on the national level with some of the NCAA’s best. In February, he took sixth place in the 200-meter dash at the Collegiate Invitational, with a time of 21.52. Despite the victories, Page says, it took some time to fully appreciate his own accomplishments.

“Sometimes until you do something or reach a certain achievement, you don’t know what you’re capable of,” he says. “I think I have a certain level of confidence now. I know that if I continue to work and push myself, I can compete at that professional level.”

Page’s impressive performance is not limited to what his legs can do. He graduated with a double major, in economics and business administration and management, and has a GPA of 3.49.

Student athlete RJ Page, Boston University BU Terriers men's track and field sprinter, E. Ray Speare Award scholar athlete

Page won last year’s E. Ray Speare Award, given to BU’s top male scholar-athlete. Photo by Doug Austin

“I’ve been challenged here like I’ve never been challenged before,” he says. “Everyone here is smart, and they bring a lot to the table, working with them, studying with them, so I’ve learned a lot from everything the University has to offer.”

In April 2012, Page earned the E. Ray Speare Award as BU’s top male scholar-athlete, “presented to the athlete that best represents combined excellence in athletic and academic pursuits.”

“It takes a special person to focus superior effort and talents, and R. J. works diligently to prepare for the challenges that await him,” says Michael Lynch, a vice president and athletics director. “This is a special gift that R. J. has, and the award was well deserved.”

For Page, it was the latest in a string of similar honors. When he graduated from elementary school, he won the award as best scholar-athlete. In middle school, he won the same award. And in high school, he won it again. Page says that despite that personal history, he couldn’t believe it when he learned of the BU award.

“Winning the E. Ray Speare Award at Boston University as top male scholar-athlete is something that I’ll never forget,” he says.

Page already had a job lined up near home when he graduated in May, with Cigna Health Insurance in Philadelphia, in a business technology rotational program. Although he’s excited to be entering the real world and starting the next chapter of his life, he’s not sure if he can give up running just yet.

“When I accepted that job offer in the fall, I realized, OK, this is going to be it for me running, but as soon as I had my first meet this year, I just said to myself, I have to keep running—I’m going to miss it.”

Paul Ryan can be reached at pryan15@bu.edu.

16 Comments

16 Comments on Running Smart

  • RR3 on 04.11.2013 at 8:38 am

    Great story on a great kid. I met RJ when I was an undergrad and he was just a cool guy on top of everything else that’s written about him here. It makes me really happy to see this type of story featured on BU Today!

    • R.J. Page on 04.12.2013 at 11:53 pm

      appreciate the kind words RR3

  • Joshua Parrish on 04.11.2013 at 12:32 pm

    RJ’s been my best friend for over 10 years and also the God-Father of my son. Although we’re in different states he hasn’t changed a bit. He’s always been a hard worker on and off the track. It’s funny because growing up we played basketball almost everyday, and I just knew he was going to play in college. When he told me he was going to Boston University to run track I wasn’t surprised at all because he was the fastest kid in our school. The article and video brought a tears to my eyes because I am proud to call RJ my best friend. He is a great guy, and he definitely deserves the great things life has to offer. His success is motivation to not only kids, but people in general. He’s proof that hard work really does pay off. One day, I hope my son grows up to be just like him.

    • R.J. Page on 04.12.2013 at 11:56 pm

      Glad to have you and J in my life.
      He will be well guided with us as father figures.
      Love y’all.

  • Brenda L Shepherd on 04.11.2013 at 12:39 pm

    Rj is a great person with a great personality. He has always done his best to excell to the next level. Being the best wasn’t enough for RJ, doing his best was his key in life and he excelled far beyond his wildest dreams. I love RJ, he is a special person with a special heart, which will take him far. RJ will not stop after college, wait until he starts his new job, I am looking for promotions behind promotions, because that is the RJ way, keep climbing higher. Good job nephew, Aunt Brenda

    • R.J. Page on 04.12.2013 at 11:54 pm

      thanks for the kind words and the support Aunt Brenda.
      Love you

  • Tony on 04.11.2013 at 3:16 pm

    Great article, I met R.J once and he reminded me of what my college coach expected from me.These are the articles that makes me go back in forth about returning to track and field in the masters level. thanks for the inspiration

    • R.J. Page on 04.12.2013 at 11:57 pm

      Glad I could inspire you Tony.
      You words also inspire me to work harder.

  • James on 04.11.2013 at 6:07 pm

    I’ve known RJ since the 8th grade always has been the smartest guy in class and the best athlete as well. Our junior year of high school he took the state by storm it was like no matter what obstacles you threw at him he couldn’t be beaten. He worked his but off to be where he is now both in the class room and on the track. Hey man congrats on all your achievements I’m honored to be able to say that I ran on the track with you all those years. I wish you the best in your future man.

    • R.J. Page on 04.12.2013 at 11:57 pm

      appreciate the support

  • Coach Christian Lynch on 04.11.2013 at 9:18 pm

    RJ continues to make his high school proud! He will always be a great example of what dedication and focus in our sport can do for you; he is THE model for all present and future track and field athletes at Kingsway. Our coaching staff considers themselves blessed to have been a part of RJ’s journey, and we continue to be among his biggest cheerleaders. We’re anxious to see what’s next! He truly has shown himself to be one of the greatest Dragons AND Terriers ever to come along.

    • R.J. Page on 04.13.2013 at 12:01 am

      Thanks for the kind words Coach Lynch. I am blessed to have been an athlete of yours. Continue to lead Kingsway Track & Field in the great direction the program has always been in. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next for the Dragons!

  • Robert page sr on 04.25.2013 at 9:32 pm

    Son u r changing other peoples live at the age of 23 I have never know anyone that age to be such a great role model. Keep up the go work God has a plan for you and its working I LOVE YOU.

  • Timothy Johnson on 04.30.2013 at 4:25 pm

    This is a fantastic story. I’m not into track and field (more of an expert on indoor climbing walls) but I am truly inspired and wish him the best. Great video and thanks for introducing me to this fantastic athlete’s story.

    • R.J. Page on 05.21.2013 at 10:36 am

      Appreciate your kind wishes Timothy

  • anonymous on 07.19.2013 at 8:45 am

    What a fun read, thanks BU-T and Paul Ryan.

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