(Photo provided by Lucas Mueller)
First of all, how did you first get involved
I first started running during the spring of 9th grade because my mom thought I might like it. I didn't actually run on the track team; I'd missed the deadline to sign up and was a shy kid anyway. So from April to June, I just ran around the block every day after school, increasing the number of laps by 1 every week until I ran about 4 miles a day. It was only during the June Driver's Ed class that one of the guys on the cross country team suggested I come to summer practices. My first official workout was quite painful. We were doing an easy 7 mile run, but I'd never run that far before. In my infinite freshman wisdom, I decided to pace with the fastest guys on the team and ended up having to walk the last mile. I was very proud of that effort, and kept at it throughout the rest of the season.
What are all your personal records, including cross country?
Do you do, or have you done, any other sports?
From 6th grade up until this fall I fenced. It was really good cross-training for running. I ended being on a state championship team in 10th grade, as well as individual state runner-up in 11th grade and helping my team to a 3rd place finish that year. I had to stop fencing towards the beginning of fall senior year to focus more on my running and on mock trial, which is basically the school sport at Nova. Fencing always seemed pretty similar to running. An individual could score points for the team, but could also place well personally. I think I always liked that aspect of both fencing and running. You can still do well individually if your team doesn't do well, but you are also competing for the team.
What types of workouts do you do as a fencer? I assume that you need to do a lot of work on your reflexes?
It's a ton of drills. We'll usually do about half an hour of footwork, then another half hour of drills, then half an hour of actually fencing or games (like where one person has to attack, and another person has to do a counter-offensive action). There are some things that help with reflexes, but the most important thing actually isn't doing things fast, it's doing them correctly. Sometimes instead of footwork we'll do agility ladders, strength training, or plyometrics.
What is your favorite or most memorable competition you've ever been in?
The 2016 Milaca cross country race. I had decided to not go out as hard and stay maybe 10 meters behind the lead pack. Unfortunately, it was a rainy day and the course was pretty slick, and I fell on my face about halfway through the race right in front of my coach. Fortunately, I managed to get up and chase down the lead pack and led the 2nd and 3rd miles. At 400m to go, I absolutely died, but managed to rally and kick for 2nd and a PR. At the finish line, I collapsed right as I was getting my award. It was a crazy race, and it really showed me how much mental toughness could do.