Minnesota cross country has been graced with numerous talented male athletes. In general, from a physiological standpoint, the best male runners tend to be the upperclassmen who have fully grown and had a few years of competition under their belt. Some past athletes who have broken this trend include Shane Streich, Connor Olson, Rob Finnerty, and Keeghan Hurley. Adding his name to this group of runners is Geno Uhrbom, a freshman from Greenway-Nashwauk-Keewatin. He has set one of the nation's leading times for freshman this year, secured the top spot in the coaches' rankings, won seven out of seven races, and run extremely fast times at very early stages of this season including a 15:48 in early September. Uhrbom arguably has one of the most impressive running resumes of any freshman to come through Minnesota in recent history.
This week I was fortunate enough to ask some questions to Minnesota's latest freshman phenom and get a glimpse into how he has gotten to the elite level he is at today.
Uhrbom began running in 5th grade after jumping between basketball, baseball and football. In 6th and 7th grade he began to focus entirely on running. He qualified for state cross country in 7th grade with his team where he finished as the top middle schooler. His 8th grade year he did the same thing, adding an All-State finish to his resume despite a bout with mono early in the season.
Despite being so young, when I asked Uhrbom about what it was like to compete in fields where almost everybody was older than him he replied, "I knew I could compete with the older kids so it wasn't too bad, but like anyone I would be nervous before the big races."
After an impressive 8th grade year with an All-State cross country performance and 10th-place finish in the 1600m, Uhrbom looked to the summer to prepare for continuing his development as one of Minnesota's emerging talents. "My goal coming into this season was to be strong, stay healthy, and of course, be faster than last year. I wanted to push myself and my teammates to be the best they could be."
Uhrbom clearly did just so. His team, GNK, are ranked 5th as a team and after defeating myself at the Milaca mega meet, he claimed the top spot in the coaches' rankings. "Running such a fast time early and seeing my name on national running websites like MileSplit US can give me some added pressure, but it is also motivating for me to continue to be the best. Uhrbom is targeting four State Cross Country championships during his high school career as well as jumping up to the national stage and qualifying for Nike Nationals or Footlocker as an upper classman (although he could likely throw his name in the mix this year!). "Although I haven't had any blazing fast times since early this season, by State I hope to get into the 15:30 range," commented Uhrbom, a goal that nobody would be surprised to see him achieve.