West Of Triton - An Interview

(Photo provided by Kim Swanson)

Personal Bests:

400- 1:05

800- 2:28

1600- 5:10

3200- 11:13

CC 5k- 19:08

Who are your main coaches?

In track our main coach is Bruce Huber, but our distance coach is Shelly Bungum. Our distance gets almost all of our instruction from Shelly. We are in a co-op with Kasson-Mantorville for cross country. Jared Pittman is the head coach for our cross country team and Shelly is an assistant coach. Bruce and Shelly are both teachers at Triton and Jared is a teacher at KM.

How do you train?

My training varies depending on what season I am in. During the winter and summer months I put in off season work to prepare for Track or Cross Country. During CC and training periods I do fairly high mileage and include a variety of different workouts. During track mileage is much lower. We also have two meets a week, so we race frequently.

What is your general racing strategy?  How did you develop it?

Racing is different every meet for me. It really depends on who else is running and what I am running at the meet.  Generally, I try to go out and get in a good position and just focus on how to improve my position relative to my competition for the rest of the race. I rely heavily on a strong kick (distance varies between events) as well. I can usually feel if I'm going too slow or too fast in my races, but it certainly helps to have my coaches giving splits. I don't think that I have ever had an issue with going out too hard in races before (except for my very first 800). When I was just starting track my coaches actually pushed me to go out harder in my 1600.

Have you done a variety of events or just distance?

I used to pole vault because almost everyone on our team does a field event and I thought it would be fun. It was fun but I was really not very good, and I rarely practiced so I decided to just focus on my running events. I also have a few sprint times because we don't have a very large team so I have filled in. I also use those races for speed work. I really wanted to do the 55m sprint just to say that I did it, so I tried that out as well. I ran the 4x4 quite often when I was in middle school and as a freshman, but other than that I have always done more of the distance races.

(Photo provided by Courtney West)
What about other sports? 

My basketball career was short lived and that's probably a good thing. I was really not good at basketball. When I was younger I was in basketball because I liked to run liners. I was very competitive and wanted to beat everyone when we would do conditioning. I didn't even realize at the time that I didn't have to play basketball to run. I slowly started to dislike basketball and knew that if I ran on my own that I would be in better shape for track anyway. I also used to play volleyball and softball. I stopped playing all three sports after my freshman year and committed myself to running year-round. Although I didn't like the sports, they taught me a great deal about myself.

Last year Nell Graham, Greta Rhodes, Kendra Petersohn and you combined to run 10:34.7 and break the 4x800 record for Triton that was 20 years old!  How did that happen?

The 4x800 relay record that we broke was a great experience. It was really big because it was such an old record. Like I've said we have a very small team, and we really only had two female distance runners, so we just had two other girls fill in. They were in pretty good shape so it didn't take too much work to get them prepared. Our first runner actually went to state last year in the 800 so I knew that we would have a strong leg to start. I was our last leg and felt a little bit nervous because there was a lot of pressure to perform well, but in the end I had fun with it because it was a home meet and I was feeling good that day. It helped to have teammates that I was comfortable with, and I think that they felt the same way.

Triton won the MN Business Professionals of America contest last year and you went on to the national competition.  Did this help your running?

When the News Broadcast team that I was apart of did well enough at state to move on to nationals, I was absolutely ecstatic. Business Professionals of America has given me lots of skills that I use in other parts of my life, including track. I loved going to Boston with my team and some other friends. I got back very early the day of our True Team and so I was running very low on sleep the day of the meet. It was actually not as bad as I had expected and I ran well that day.

(Photo provided by Kim Swanson)

What has helped you improve the most as a runner?

I have improved quite a bit over the last few years. I attribute almost all of it to off season training. When I started running track I did the 800 and the 1600 and looking back I think that it was so slow. My 32 was pretty slow when I first started in that event as well. Training in the off season has given me a base, it has also give me much more exposure to running and has allowed me to develop a new mindset toward running.

Are there any college runners who you admire?

I admire a lot of professional runners, too many to list. I think that their work ethic is great. I look up to Chrissy Lofgren who runs at St. Cloud State University. We used to compete against each other often, and became friends. I look up to some of the other girls that I have ran against that now run at the collegiate level. Madeline Strandemo of Minnesota is really inspiring as well. Her first place finish in the mile at the Big 10 indoor championships was amazing.

Do you have a warm up routine?

Warm ups are different every time but I always get in at least a mile jog and a short dynamic routine before the start of a race. I usually just go off of feel for the rest of my warm up, I don't freak out about it too much because then I tend to overdo it. I try to stay loose and focused so that I don't get too nervous.

Have you chosen a college yet?

I have not decided on a college yet. I am a junior so I know that I have a little time but not too much. I have been keeping my options open as far as where I would like to go. Running is one of my priorities and I would really like to run in college. My coaches have already helped me so much and I know that they will continue to help me with making this decision.