What role did running on the team play in your overall experience as a Bronco?
Running was originally one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to come to Santa Clara. Coach Montoro was a great young coach and I thought he would take the program to new heights. It was something that I really wanted to be a part of and I felt I could come in and contribute to that budding potential.
Unfortunately, my first few years were sidetracked by injury due to a herniated disc in my back. I literally was not able to run a step for 16 months, and my career looked pretty bleak at the time. I still had hope that I would run again, but I used the extra time to pursue other passions. It was then that I found my love for film production. I joined the film club, BroncoTV, and eventually switched majors from Combined Sciences to Communication to study video production.
I then worked as an intern for the athletic department where I was able to combine my love of sports with my love for video. It was really cool because I was able to help Santa Clara utilize the video board in Leavey for showcasing live footage during basketball games.
Through the internship I was able to put my skills to work, making basketball highlights and promo videos to air on game day. It was awesome! Some of the content I created included celebrity free throw shots of Joe Cannon and Brandi Chastain; a promo video for the track team that aired during the Gonzaga game; and a basketball promo that was shown on ESPNU.
During my junior year I started running again and eventually got back to top form. I made the postseason squad this fall in my last season. Running in the WCC Championship and traveling up to Oregon for the NCAA West Regional meet was an incredible finish to my SCU career. I'm so happy that I had the opportunity to come back for a fifth season and go for it.
In addition, the friendships I made while at SCU in the athletic department, with the cross country coaching staff and team have helped me tremendously in my personal development, and I will continue to cherish those relationships as I move on to the next stage of my life.
What inspired you to persevere through injuries early on in your college career?
There were a lot of things that inspired me. At times, I really questioned if I could even come back and run again. If I got to the point where I could run, there was a big concern that I would just get injured again. But to me that didn't matter. Deep down I knew that if I didn't at least try, I would always regret it.
In my time away from the sport, I read a lot of books about running and sports in general to keep me motivated. I read different things about balancing the mind and the body, and how to push oneself yet stay within healthy limits. The books were not just about running, but other sports like baseball and cycling as well. These books helped inspired me to overcome my obstacles and to change my mindset. When I finally came back to running, I had a completely different mental approach to my training and overall lifestyle, which I think ultimately, helped me stay healthy.
But more than proving to myself that I could come back and compete at a high level again, I think the biggest reason I wanted to come back was because I wanted to give something back to the program and share my experience with the younger guys. I could see that the program was really starting to improve and transform under Coach Montoro's guidance. I wanted to come back and have the chance to be a positive role model on the team in order to help that development.
What are your predictions for this upcoming season?
If cross-country was any indication, the program is making steps into very successful territory. I would look for continued success with our top runners Robbie Reid and Stephanie Wilson. They could both compete for spots in the NCAA regional meet.
Also, I'd look for some fast times from our stellar freshmen class. I hear Kevin Oliver, Guadalupe Gonzalez and Erin Hartwig are looking really fit, and I also think that sophomore Austin Jones will surprise some people in the spring.
Finally, expect some fast senior finishes by John Laughlin and Stephen Koch. And probably my boldest prediction is that Alex Harkins will again come back from injury to run great times down the stretch.
Are you continuing to incorporate the sport into your life even after graduation?
Yes, definitely. Running in a lot of ways is not only a sport, but a lifestyle. So I have continued to run on my own, though admittedly not as frequently. I'm hoping to get back into racing shape to run some road races this summer.
In addition, I have recently made a transition from distance athlete to coach. I am currently the head distance coach on the Mountain View High School track team. It has been very exciting so far. The boys' team won state in cross country so it's nice that I have some very talented runners to work with. I work with both boys and girls, and the whole team just has a great attitude.
I never realized how rewarding it can be to coach. I'm really looking forward to seeing how everyone races come May and June.