Talking Tork - An Interview

(Photo provided by Peter Torkelson)

First of all, how did you first get involved with running?

It's actually a pretty long story how I first started running. When I was in 6th grade, I joined the cross country team at Ellis Middle School, and early on I had an urge to beat the older runners. I stayed with them in practices, and I remember the coach was kind of impressed, so she put me in as an 8th grade runner for my first meet, but I stopped coming to practices and overall just quit cross country. But I kept running, or I'd ride my bike wherever I'd go because I don't own a car. Then when I was in 7th grade I tried baseball at another school with my new friend Jorge, but I broke my finger early on and quit. I stayed friends with Jorge but we started getting a little bored when we hung out, so we started making videos and meeting in the middle of the night to bike into the next town. Then with a turn of events one night we decided to break into a house which we'd both thought to be abandoned. We went there that night, broke things, and broke windows. We decided to start egging houses and to TP a few others, then there came the ding dong ditching. This led to us breaking into a few other properties around town. Knocking over lumber stacked up at our local supply store, and to top it off we used a fire extinguisher in a school bus parked by our house. Then my mom found out what we did on my Facebook messages and she called the cops. It was an awful feeling, but luckily nobody pressed charges on us. That summer I had to work off the damages I did to the house, to top it off my mom said I wouldn't be able to leave her side the whole summer because of the trust I had broken between us. One day after spending about a month without friends and only my mom and siblings, my sister said she was going to run a 5k in Austin. My mom gave her a ride and I was woken up early to go with, so I threw on some basketball shoes, sweatpants, and a sweater, got in the car and fell asleep. We got there and my mom asked if I wanted to run and I said no. Then she told me that she was going to a meeting so it was either to stay and run (without her by my side for the first time) or to go to the meeting. And needless to say I took the running option. My first 5k I ran I wore basketball shoes, I finished 8th and I got a first place medal for my age division. Needless to say I was hooked and the next day my mom let me run a 5k in Rochester.

Wow, that is quite a story! What were the biggest things you learned from that whole experience?

I learned that my family and friends are always there to support me when times are tough but it's much easier to just do the right thing and not get in that situation in the first place.

What are all your personal records, including cross country?

Marathon - 3:08:50

Half marathon-1:27:23

10k - 38:47

8k - 29:46.6

5k - 16:28.3

2 mile - 9:58.2

1 mile - 4:25.77

400 meter - 51.65

300 meter hurdles - 41.64

Do you do, or have you done, any other sports?

Yep, I was in baseball and basketball.

What is your favorite or most memorable competition you've ever been in?

I flew to California to compete in the Spartan Race World Championships.

Other than your own teammates, who are some of your favorite athletes to compete against?

My friends Josiah Eide and Alec Ille. We are always pushing each other to get better 

Who are some people that have been most helpful to you in your athletic career?

My mother and my family. They've been there when I needed shoes to run in and when I needed race fees to compete and it made me love the sport.

What is a challenge you have had to face as an athlete?

One of the most challenging things is pressure to be the best, but I will strive to be the best I can be. I guess I'll find out if that's able to get me somewhere in college.

As a senior, how have your perspectives, strategies, or attitudes changed since you first started running, what advice would you give to younger track athletes?

I think I've learned that as much fun as it is to just run, there is a lot of strategy when it comes to running in track, firstly if I'm not mentally there I'll never get the times I want. So it's best to build up mental condition as well as physical. And always have a strategy set before the race based on your abilities and the abilities of your fellow athletes. Also don't raise your hands and turn around at the end of a won't end well. 

What are your main goals for this track season?

I would like to beat my record for the mile and make it to state in the 300 hurdles and the 2 mile.

You might be the first person I've ever seen have goals to compete at State in the 3200 and 300 hurdles. How did you come to do hurdles, and how do you balance those two very-different disciplines during the season?

I started doing hurdles because my sister used to compete in them when she was younger in track and I was kinda jealous. Then my coach noticed I was doing well and he had me work on my form a little more which brought me this close to my goal.

(Photo provided by Peter Torkelson)

Do you have any college plans?

I'll be attending Hawkeye community college to train to be a paramedic and transfer to MSU-Mankato after 2 years, where I will continue to run in college.

What attracted you to those schools as your college choices?

I think it's best to save money for the first few years because I hear a lot about students switching their studies a year in due to a change in heart and I like the atmosphere of the college.

Do you have any rituals, routines, or superstitions either on or off the track?

Yes, I like to slap my legs and crack my neck before I run. It feels refreshing.

When not doing anything track-related, what might we find you doing?

Rock climbing, biking or school.

Tell me one bizarre fact about yourself.

I can clap my own hand with just one hand.