Meet Jesse Hamlin: The fastest kid in school

Jesse Hamlin ran a 4.01.79 mile taking first at the Big East Championships on Feb. 24. Photo by Riina Korri


Ever since he started running in elementary school, graduate student Jesse Hamlin has always been one of the fastest kids in school. 

The Fort Wayne native has stacked up a list of accolades during his time at Butler, most impressively breaking the school record for the mile with a time of 3:56.59. 

Hamlin initially broke the record at the Michigan Invitational on Jan. 27 with a time of 3:57.99. Since that meet, he has improved his time by recording his current best at the Eagle Elite Invitational on Feb. 10. 

“I got into running just with the little gym class mile,” Hamlin said. “I was pretty good at it and my gym teacher thought I should keep pursuing it.” 

While an elementary school gym teacher may have been a catalyst to a tremendous running career, one teammate in particular really helped pave a path for the all-conference athlete. 

“I had a teammate in high school who was two years older than me,” Hamlin said. “Roman Jennings — he was my best friend’s older brother [and] was really good. I looked up to him, he was just the toughest guy you would ever know. Going out there, running hard, [he is] a great guy and friend.” 

Matt Roe, head track and cross country coach, saw Hamlin’s record-breaking potential and has watched the immense work ethic it took him to reach his goals. 

“A great distance runner has to be resilient,” Roe said. “The training is really difficult, so you need to have a capacity for work and most importantly you need to love to run and race.” 

While Roe is adamant that no coach should have unreasonably high expectations for any athlete going into the collegiate level, the potential in Hamlin was all there. 

“We did not know what he could do, but we knew he could do something special,” Roe said. “[Hamlin was] really talented, sort of like a hidden gem. He had low mileage in high school, but he was running really fast. We felt like over the course of time that with his talent he could be an elite, national level runner.” 

After a redshirt and COVID-19 season left Hamlin essentially raceless in his first two academic years at Butler, he quickly started his impressive athletic resume earning 2021 outdoor All-Big East honors for the 4×800 relay. 

Despite coach Roe having produced numerous school record holders before, Hamlin’s journey to the record is not any less impressive. 

“Last year at the conference meet I broke four [minutes] for the first time,” Hamlin said. “I did not realize it at first because I was racing for the win. I ended up coming in second, but it was a nice surprise to break four for the first time. [Now holding the record], it is really special seeing how far the middle-distance program has come since I have been here.” 

Teammates and coaches noted that Hamlin’s impressive training and work ethic is the clear-cut reason for his success. 

“[One of the hardest things is] just being able to train consistently at a high level,” Roe said. “That is something that is a question mark for all athletes coming in, but his training over time has continued to become more meticulous.” 

Outside of his individual accomplishments, Hamlin has helped elevate the 800-meter squad of himself, graduate William Cuthbertson and sophomore David Slapak into a top-25 group in the nation

Jesse Hamlin and William Cuthbertson both run the 800-meter race. Photo by Riina Korri

Although Hamlin highlights the group, Cuthbertson is no stranger to school records himself. A transfer from Wagner University, Cuthbertson holds the record at his former school for the 800-meter dash. 

“Being able to practice with some of these great guys like Jesse has been truly amazing,” Cuthbertson said. “We are all huge competitors and want to see the best in each other, so pushing each other every day is not a difficult thing for us.” 

Coming from a smaller track program, Cuthbertson had an initial shock at Butler. However, Hamlin’s work ethic is one that continues to stand out to him. 

“All the little pieces and hard work he puts in, there are so many things he is doing to prepare himself mentally and physically,” Cuthbertson said. “Whether it is stretching after or getting early to practice, all those little pieces come together and make him as great as he is.” 

Hamlin has proved to be a class-act teammate and athlete for the Dawgs in his five years with the program. As he still looks forward to a sixth year it is hard not to reminisce on his already-great accomplishments. 

“I have really enjoyed coaching him,” Roe said. “He leads by example which makes my job easier, has a great personality and the guys like him. When you have people like that in your program, records are going to fall and success is going to come. No coach has ever set a record, it is always the athlete.” 

While it is true the athletes still have to do the running, it is no mistake that nearly every program record except the girls 800-meter dash is held by an athlete coached by Roe. 

As for the rest of this season, Hamlin and his teammates have the NCAA Championships on deck for March 8. Although this is far from Hamlin’s first rodeo, he knows there is still a lot to prove. 

“If there are no nerves, you kind of need to check yourself,” Hamlin said. “It is going to hurt no matter what, so you are going to need to prepare yourself for that. It will always mean a lot, so there is always going to be nerves.” 


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