Salute To Seniors - Sam Theisen

    What are all your personal records?

    1600 - 4:34.12, 3200 - 9:52.22,  5k - 16:46

    How did you get started as a track or cross country athletes?

    The summer before my 7th grade year, my neighbor Doug Hubred, brought up the idea to me that I should try out Cross Country. I was hesitant at first, especially due to the fact that I've only played baseball and had never run competitively, except for the school mile. I went to the XC camp that Armstrong hosted and by the end of the week, I felt like I was welcomed into a family of hard-working, charismatic and talented individuals. From then on, I began to make friends that I still stay connected with to this day.

    What was your most memorable competition?

    For me, the NWSC Conference Championships in the 2017 XC season still remains my favorite memory from my 6 years of competition. Going into the race, we knew we had a chance as a team to finish towards the top. To me, the whole race was a blur, but the biggest thing I remember though was hammering out the last 200m against Patrick McLean and Connor Janostin. I walked back to camp to see one of my coaches, Robb Stephens, frantically writing down numbers. He looks up and says "I think we have a chance." For a second, I had no idea what he was talking about, but then it hit me - we might have won the Conference Championships. The other guys eventually made their way over, and it seemed like hours that we were waiting to see the results posted online. As soon as we had just given up on waiting, my other coach, Colin Woelfle, runs over from the finish line "Guys, we won!" We were ecstatic. It later turned out that it had come down to a tiebreaker, with Zach McShane helping us win it over. Still to this day, I'll never forget the excitement and feeling of accomplishment that day had on all of us.

    What was your greatest accomplishment as a track/XC athlete?

    Recently, I'm really happy with the way I was able to finish off the track season this year. Last year, I didn't really have the season I hoped for and the less-than-ideal XC season that I had really made me want to push myself to new limits this track season. Once again, I had a pretty full season, balancing music performances and rehearsals with track practices and meets. I had to miss True Team sections because of a conflict with choir, and that is one of the many times that happened this season. This year, I was able to drop 8 seconds in both my 1600 and 3200 at the section meet. I felt the support of my teammates and family behind me as I reached this feat. Looking back to just a few weeks ago, I feel accomplished and excited that I was able to have a solid performance to cap out my high school racing.

    What is your most memorable non-competition moment as a track athlete?

    This year, I was named Male Athlete of the year at the senior recognition ceremony at Armstrong. With that, I was given a Wheaties box with a photo of me on it. I wasn't expecting it and it was a big honor for me to have my achievements recognized.  

    Who were your biggest competitors in your track/XC career?

    I have to put in a big shoutout to my NWSC and 6AA competitors throughout the years, specifically CJ Young, Luke Gustafson, Wes Donaldson, Bryce Whitley and Adam McCollor. I also can't give enough credit to all of my friends and teammates at Armstrong throughout the years.

    If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your track/XC high school?

    Looking back on all my years of competing, I wish I would've been able to get myself to not overthink how a race will turn out. My worst performances seem to happen after I over-analyze or doubt my ability to preform well. I've had countless sleepless nights because I was too nervous for the big race the next day which definitely didn't help my results.

    How have your coaches been an influence to you as an athlete and a person?

    I have been lucky to have my XC coaches, Robb Stephens, Colin Woelfle and Doug Hubred, stick with me through all 6 years on the team.  I can owe it all to them for making me want to stay involved in XC, through all of the ups and downs during my 6 years of competition.

    For Track, Ben Drexler really helped me push my limits as a runner. He was able to make me realize how much potential I could accomplish through the intense workouts on the track. Two years ago, Scott Wieker took over the distance team and taught me how to fine tune my training and be ready to go when I needed to in racing. In addition to XC and Track, I was very involved in Fine Arts at Armstrong, participating in both band and choir. Coach Wieker helped me learn how to balance my schedule so I wouldn't burn myself out when balancing all of my academics and athletics throughout the spring.

    What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

    In my 10th grade track season, I had the case of IT band syndrome, or runners knee. That was my first real injury and it kind of came as a shock to me and my coach. I began therapy right away but it had still put me out for the rest of the season, and still comes back to bother me once in a while. Times like that it where my patience was really tested, but my determination spurred forward. Injuries can happen to anyone, but it's through that tough time for me where I began to really grow as an athlete.

    For my senior season of Cross Country, my season really seemed to take a turn for the worst. After the season was over, I went to get my blood tested in which I found out I was iron deficient. Throughout the season, I was tired and had little energy to make it through the day. I was somehow able to pull myself together for practices everyday, but when it came time to throw down at meets, nothing seemed to click. Which really crushed my motivation that season.

    What will you miss the most about high school track/XC?

    I'm going to miss running with my best friends after school. We're like a family and spent almost all of our free time together.

    What advice would you give to younger athletes?

    Embrace every moment you can, because it'll be over before you know it. It seems like it was just a short time ago that I was running with the top varsity guys in 7th grade trying to keep up with them on runs (which didn't really go so well). The relationships that you form on a team of dedicated and hard-working individuals will last way longer than you think they might. I know I've said this already and i'll probably say it again, but I love my team.

    What are your post-graduation plans?

    This fall, I will be attending the University of St. Thomas to major in Business Administration with a concentration in Communications. I will also be running on their Cross Country and Track teams.

    Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

    First off, I want to thank my parents. Without their support, I would be nowhere near the person I am today and I can't thank them enough for all the love and support they've given me in allowing me to follow my passion for the sport and the love of competition. I also want to give a shoutout all my teammates, especially Ben Aoki-Sherwood, Zach McShane, Cal Libra and Jack Meinert. It's been an honor being able to complete alongside them for the past few years.

    Is there anything else you'd like to add?

    Shoutout to the staff at Milesplit for giving me videos to watch while I procrastinated on my AP Government homework. I also want to thank Doug Hubred, Susan Walto, Brian and Rachel Mienert and Lance Elliott for taking photos at meets that bring out my best, but not the best looking, race face during meets. And lastly, thank you the support of Armstrong High School and the Cross Country and Track programs, including administration, teachers and parents for helping instill values in me that I will hold onto for years to come.

    For more information about sending in a Salute To Seniors, click here