Yanni Kouiroukidis, Contributing Writer
When graduate student Ian Davis started running for the VCU track team in 2017, he wanted everything fast. He said he’s since learned to slow things down off the track.
“I think I gained a lot of patience,” Davis said. “It’s something you have to learn in any atmosphere when you’re working with other people. Just learning not to take anything too personally.”
Before coming to VCU, Davis ran at the highly-touted Our Lady of Good Counsel High School with notable alumni such as Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs and Washington Football Team cornerback Kendall Fuller.
Davis started running track at 12 years old after he stopped playing football. While Davis said football was his first love, the atmosphere and community around track and field convinced him to make the switch.
“I love the people surrounding track and field,” Davis said. “To me, it’s so much different than any other sport. Even though it’s super competitive, you never see any bad blood between competitors. We’re all a whole community and a big family.”
Since coming to VCU’s program in 2017, Davis has won five A-10 championships, including breaking two records in the 2021 A-10 championships.
At Sunday’s A-10 championships, Davis broke his own record in the 110-meter hurdles, winning the gold medal and finishing in 13.98 seconds. Davis also finished second in the 400-meter hurdles, breaking a school record previously held by Emmanuel Waller in 2019 by posting a time of 51.25 seconds.
“Going sub-14 in the 110m hurdles, breaking the school record in 400 hurdles, and finally winning gold in the 4×1 I feel like there was just no better way to go out of the Atlantic-10,” Davis said.
Davis said he hasn’t always been confident in his abilities, despite showing success in his meets. He said it took a little leap of hope in the beginning of his career that sparked his success with the black and gold.
“His sophomore year, he went from being a kid to a man and he’s never looked back,” said assistant coach Thomas Sage, who focuses on hurdling. “His freshman year, I stuck him in the 400-meter hurdles and he ran 58 seconds, and to see him go to 51.25 seconds in his fifth year is just kind of mind-boggling.”
Davis said that his bond with Sage reaches beyond just the sport of track and field. Davis said that he attributes his success to coach Sage and that he wouldn’t be where he is today without his mentoring.
“He’s someone who has never steered me wrong, not in just track and field but in life,” Davis said. “Coach Sage is like a lifelong friend, not just my coach or my mentor, but definitely a friend.”
Another part of Davis’ track family is his hurdles teammate, junior Sebastian Evans. While competing together, Evans said he learned a lot from his senior running mate.
“He’s honestly the best teammate I have ever had the pleasure being part of a sports team with,” Evans said. “The biggest thing I’ve learned from him is … fearlessness. He attacks everything from like meets to workouts and even stuff we don’t want to do — he just attacks.”
For his pre-meet process, Davis said he’s relaxed on the team bus, listening to music and joking around with teammates. Once he steps foot onto the track — he said it’s all business.
“I’ll definitely listen to music on the bus ride and I gotta play Young Thug because he’s my favorite artist to get hype to,” Davis said. “Once I get off the bus it’s complete silence. Most of the time as soon as I get off, I’m usually off on my own, just thinking about my race and what my coaches have been telling me.”
While Davis’ career at VCU is coming to a close, his legacy is one that has already made a stamp on the history of the track and field program.
“Ian Davis is the best there ever was,” Evans said. “He deserves it.”