Aug. 31, 2005
What about Ohio State made you most attracted to the university when you first decided that’s where you were going to go after high school in Illinois?
I was just really impressed with the quality of people and the great tradition. The alumni I met and everyone involved with the University was so proud to be a Buckeye; I have always agreed with Woody Hayes’ “You win with people” statement.
What one person had the biggest impact on the coaching style that you have today? Why?
I would say Mark Croghan (OSU class of ’91, three-time Olympian). He really showed me the importance of getting people to focus. When an individual can truly work towards a goal with commitment, discipline, and open-mindedness, it is really special. Now when you can have a group of guys (team) thinking like that, you really have something special!
Would you rather see one of your runners win an NCAA championship or make the Olympic team? Why?
Definitely make the Olympic team. There is nothing even close to making the Olympic team in our sport. I would also never sacrifice a student-athletes preparation to win an NCAA title at the expense of making the Olympic team. I always try to think as ‘Big a picture’ as the athlete and I agree on.
Aside from the obvious, that the competition is better and you run a longer distance, what is the biggest difference between high school and college cross country?
I actually never ran cross country in high school. Soccer was my first love and I never went out and ran cross country until my first year at Ohio State. I have definitely been hooked ever since and I probably couldn’t juggle a soccer ball 10 times without twisting an ankle or something.
Is there anything that high school recruits don’t believe no matter how many times you tell them until they get here and figure it out for themselves?
I receive a certain amount of credibility because of my own athletes’ success and due to the fact that I am still in pretty good shape. However, every year I’ll get a kid or two who was ‘the man’ in high school who got by primarily on natural talent who does about 50% of the summer training; it is usually a very, very long autumn for him. Although, that is usually the same kid who comes back the next year a totally different athlete. What is your personal record for miles ran at one time?
I think I ran 20 miles once, but it was definitely because I got lost, 16 miles is about my maximum. It used to be because I thought it was too boring and didn’t really help, but now it is because I am just too old!
When you were competing, which did you like better, cross country or track? Why?
I really enjoyed them both. In cross country, I really enjoy the turns, the hills, the rotten weather and especially that man vs. man competitive aspect all really give you a real sense of accomplishment. Track however is what you can make Olympic teams in and therefore, despite the much-increased pressure (which isn’t always a bad thing), has always been the primary goal.
Have you ever learned the hard way a certain meal that you should not eat before you go out and run? If so, what is that meal?
Chicken burrito from Chipotle. I need at least 10 hours post-Chipotle.
What would you consider your greatest accomplishment as an athlete? Why?
1. When I finished 2nd at the Big Ten Championships in cross country as a junior, People are always surprised by that, but I had a very, very difficult transition athletically from high school to college and this was the first time that I was able to compete with the best runners in the conference/nation.
2. Making my 2nd Olympic team. I did not make it in 2000 and that is traditionally when most people retire. Staying on my feet against all of the younger guys over the last lap to secure my Olympic spot will be something I will never forget.
What would you consider your greatest accomplishment as a coach? Why?
I think the level of the program in general. We have had Big 10 Champions, top finishers at NCAA’s, Olympic trials participants, and people who have gone on to run professionally. But I am most proud of the character and approach of our team. We have always had great individual runners here and there, but my aim when I began coaching 8 years ago was to build a whole area. We have managed to keep the best Ohio kids in-state and as a result, we have a program that is consistently making the NCAA meet. Before the program got going, the only NCAA berth we’d ever had at Ohio State was in 1929. That is one of the reasons I decided to run this year. I knew we’d have a strong group who would still be running at the USATF senior meet in myself, Rob Myers (3rd at 2004 Olympic Trials-1500), Brian Olinger (steeplechase-ranked 6th in 2005), Aaron Fisher (steeplechase-ranked 10th in 2005). There aren’t many programs with those kinds of top end guys at this meet. I am very proud of the fact that Ohio State is now among these distance powerhouses.