By Mallory Majcher
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
After graduating from Princeton with a degree in aerospace and mechanical engineering, Joe Stilin moved to the Lone Star State to continue his track and field career at Texas and pursue his master's degree in aerospace engineering.
"I decided on Texas for both academic and athletic reasons," Stilin said. "I am in the aerospace department so I had a pretty smooth transition as far as school was concerned. As for athletics, Texas has good weather for training, and the school has a great team with great coaches."
Stilin received an redshirt year of indoor eligibility after suffering an injury during his sophomore indoor season at Princeton.
In just his third meet as a Longhorn, Stilin broke the school record in the mile with a time of 3:57.28. The record was previously held by Olympic distance runner and former Longhorn Leo Manzano, who set his mark of 3:58.78 while winning the 2007 Big 12 Championship.
Stilin also holds the school record for the Longhorns in the 3,000m with a time of 7:56.07, set at the Husky Classic, and is the current school record holder at Princeton in the 1,500m and 5,000m.
In this past weekend's Men's Big 12 championship meet, Stilin finished sixth in the one-mile run with a mark of 4:05.05 and was 14th in the 3,000m.
Despite his first-year status at Texas, Stilin's personal success has driven him to be an established leader on this strong team. The fifth-year runner's age may be the obvious factor for his leadership status, however, but Stilin's teammates say he earned the respect, like the other veterans.
"[Joe] is there to be a teammate. He is a great listener, he is really smart and supportive," said Patrick McGregor of his distance medley relay teammate. "He is not a very vocal but he leads by example. That is the thing guys respect about him. He does what he is supposed to do."
Stilin, however, maintains his modesty and feels that he is just like any other athlete.
"I know a lot about the sport so the younger guys come to me for advice sometimes, but I am just another guy on the team-a Longhorn like everybody else," Stilin said.
Head coach Bubba Thorton appreciates Stilin's attitude and hard work during his time at Texas and feels that his strength comes from his mindset. Thorton says that younger athletes sometimes look towards future races and says that Stilin always races like it is his last.
"A lot of the younger guys always think there is another race, another jump or another throw," Thornton said. "[Joe's] attitude has always been the idea that there is now one less opportunity left to live out his dream [of qualifying for NCAAs]."
Stilin has proven to Thorton, as well as the team, that he wants to make the most of each opportunity and each race rather than thinking there is another chance. This mindset for Stilin has developed through his years of racing from advice that has been passed down from his mentors.
"I was always told to run each race like it will be my last, because in retrospect, it is," said Stilin. "Everything you accomplish is a build up of your past, not a look at your future. I know how to work hard and balance all aspects of my life because of all the things I have learned in my past."
Stilin's success also stems from his faith in distance coach John Hayes. Although Stilin is very confident in his knowledge of running, he has a lot of respect for Hayes' resume and his knowledge of the sport.
"If I doubt any little thing, I just put all my trust in my coach," said Stilin. "He is a great role mode, l and he knows what he is doing."