On April 8, at the Duke Invi­ta­tional, in Durham, North Car­olina, track and field cap­tain Jonathan Hall fin­ished fourth in the 400-​​meter hur­dles. But a dis­ap­pointing per­for­mance on a rainy day didn’t sour his sunny disposition.

There are a couple pic­tures of me smiling before or during the races,” said Hall, who is one of more than 2,000 grad­u­ating seniors this year. “I just kept thinking, ‘I’m happy to be here on this beau­tiful track.’ ”

Hall car­ried his pos­i­tive atti­tude from the field to the class­room, where he majored in soci­ology and minored in busi­ness, psy­chology and women’s studies, excelling aca­d­e­m­i­cally after a chal­lenging first semester.

As a freshman, Hall strug­gled to bal­ance his course-​​load — he entered North­eastern as an archi­tec­ture major — with track meets, prac­tices and work­outs. He toted a 1.7 grade-​​point-​​average.

I wasn’t sleeping and studying after prac­tice wasn’t working,” said Hall, who con­sid­ered trans­fer­ring to another uni­ver­sity. Tired and unsure of his next move, he had a long talk with track and field head coach Sherman Hart, who recalled telling Hall, “We’re going to get this together here. This is where you belong.”

Hart deliv­ered on his promise. He helped Hall pick a new major and develop an aca­d­emic plan, which included enlisting Eliz­a­beth Johnson and Gavin Porter of student-​​athlete sup­port ser­vices to help the runner set a schedule and “orga­nize his life.”

It paid off. “After I changed majors, I started excelling,” said Hall. He plans to grad­uate with honors after nearly dou­bling his freshman-​​year grade point average.

Hart is proud of his cap­tain, who he called a “technically-​​sound stu­dent of track with an award-​​winning smile.” As Hart put it, “Jon is ded­i­cated all the way around. When we talk, he listens.”

Hall, who plans to coach high school or col­le­giate track, will be in Rich­mond, Vir­ginia, for the Colo­nial Ath­letic Asso­ci­a­tion Cham­pi­onships on May 6, the day of grad­u­a­tion. But he’s OK with that.

The coaches are taking us out to dinner and we’ll have a little cer­e­mony of our own,” he said, then cracked a joke. “I’d rather be on a podium than on a stage.”