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Smith picks Arizona State

Gill St. Bernard's star makes choice less than a week after undergoing coaching change

BY Jim Lambert

Doug Smith (photo left winning the 2008 Shore Invite - photo by John Nepolitan) has certainly had a wild week.

First, on Dec. 13, Smith's personal coach, Ryan Grote, relinquished that role after two plus years working with Smith. Then, Smith, a senior at Gill St. Bernard's, made his college choice official, giving Arizona State a verbal commitment this past Friday.
Smith will be joining an Arizona State program that won the 2008 NCAA Division 1 Track and Field Indoor Championship.

``Yeah, it was a crazy week, but I’m happy and relieved to finally make my college choice,’’ said Smith. ``Obviously I am going to program that is one of the best in the country, so it’s very exciting to know I’ll be a part of that.’’
Smith, who also visited Syracuse and Georgetown, took his visit to the Tempe, Arizona campus during the second weekend of October.

``When I was there, I sent my mom a text and told her that she’s not going to like this, but I really liked it there,’’ said Smith. ``They have a great team and it’s a great to place to run. Everyone on the team has gotten better since they got there, so that was something that impressed me.’’

Smith has also been impressed with the coaching techniques of Tom Fleming, who Smith has turned to for help with his workouts. Smith will continue to run for Gill St. Bernard's.
Fleming is a two-time New York City Marathon champion (1973 and '75) and the coach at Montclair Kimberley Academy.
``I’ve always talked to him (Fleming) at meets and liked what he had to say,’’ said Smith. ``I know he’s been a fan of mine. There are changes in coaching in all sports and pro runners switch coaches all the time. Hopefully the change will be good for me and I can get back to where I’d expected to be at this point in my senior year.’’

Smith was second in the 3,200 at the NJ Meet of Champions both indoors and outdoors last year. He has track personal bests of 9:01.86 for 3,200, 4:14.23 for 1,600 and 14:35.32 for 5,000. He’s coming off subpar cross country season that saw him finish just 54th.
``I don’t want to get into numbers or anything like that,’’ Smith said of his goals for the indoor and outdoor seasons. ``I just want to get back to running well and hopefully this coaching change will help me do that.''