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All this after missing the indoor season with a knee injury.

Now, Hammond has his sights set on returning the national championships, where he finished 14th last year.

And he’ll do it by hanging back, then turning on the jets for the final 200 meters. It’s a strategy, he admits, can backfire. It did at this year’s ACC championship, when Hammond said he finished second because he started his kick too late.

“It’s kind of a blessing and a curse,” Hammond said. “It’s worked a lot for me but it’s almost, you live by the kick and you die by the kick.”

For his brother, who plans to attend the championships in Iowa if Michael qualifies, it can be stressful viewing.

“It’s nerve racking at times,” Stephen Hammond, 24, said. “I’m not nervous about him, I’m nervous about the other runners. Is he going to be able to navigate his way up to the front? I know he’s always going to have it. When that last lap comes around, I always know he’s going to bring it.”

Read more about the Hokies at VTeffect.com