Saturday, January 10, 2009

Catching up with Tamalpais runner Daniel Milechman...

Today we chat with Tamalpais HS sophomore, Daniel Milechman. For a young runner with only two years of cross country experience, Milechman has already established himself as one of the top runners in Northern California by his performances in the North Coast Section Meet of Champions and at the cross country state meet. His times and places resulted with Milechman claiming the sophomore runner of the year honors on the 2008 All NorCal Cross Country team. This spring, Milechman will put the golf bag aside and give Track and Field a try in the ultra competitive NCS distance races.

1) How did you discover and get started with the sport of Cross Country?
My brother Sam was a cross-country runner in high school and enjoyed the experience. He had great success as a runner and loved the social as well as competitive aspects of the team. Watching his races and seeing how much fun he had drove me to do cross-country, despite my interest in playing for the High School Soccer team.

2) What other sports have you played?
I'm not just a runner. I like to play soccer, basketball, tennis and golf. On weekends, I'm almost always playing one of these sports. In the past, I have played on basketball, soccer, and baseball teams and enjoyed them a great deal before turning my main focus to running.

3) As you were first starting out in the sport, who were the runners that were role models for you (on your team or other teams)?
My brother Sam was a great motivation to me, as he got me interested in cross-country. But really, my teammates have provided unbelievable motivation. I came in as a freshman on a boys team that was mostly made up of Juniors, with a few Seniors. Cory Rand, Kalen Rago, Michael Fearon, Chris Lowell, Cody Chapman, and Sam Brigham are just a few of the many runners who have made my experience so much fun. They have an unbelievable attitude that makes the practices so much more relaxing and enjoyable. I can't say enough about all of my teammates.

4) You had a very successful 9th grade season in cross country. What would you say was your best race as a freshman?
As a freshman, I worked hard all season and peaked at the end of the year. I had a strong MCAL league race, but I felt that my NCS performance was by far my best race. I ran my best time in 16:20 and felt that I pushed myself harder than I ever had the entire season.

5) In terms of cross country: favorite race? favorite course? favorite competitor? favorite workout? favorite run?
As far as my favorite race goes, I would have to say that it is the state meet. I ran it for the first time this year, and the excitement and hype that surrounds that race is unbelievable. For me, I love the competition, as it pushes me to another level. My favorite course has to be the Tam home course. I have run it so many times that I know exactly how to maneuver it and feel confident every time that I run there. I wouldn't say that I have a favorite competitor or workout, it just depends on the day.

6) What did you do this summer in preparation for the season that was different than your previous summer?
This summer, I definitely set myself up for a strong season by running hard. For the most part, I ran with former Tam runner Nick LaPlant, who is now a college runner and pushed me all summer long. The miles I put in were not astronomical; probably only 15-20 per week. But I ran hard for every one of them and got myself into good shape for the beginning of the season.

7) What was your proudest accomplishment from this past season?
My proudest moment was coming in first place at NCS, though it is followed closely by my third place finish at state. The main difference between the two was that our team won at NCS, which made the whole experience infinitely better. Our team won by a single point, and that made me realize that had I finished second, which would have been a great accomplishment by itself, we would not have won. The same is true for all my teammates- one more place back and we would not have prevailed. Tthe knowledge that we had all worked together and that each of us had carried his load made me and the team amazingly proud.

8) Your team competes in the MCAL. Tell us a little about the competition in that league and how it helped prepare you for NCS and state.
In the MCAL competition, I had wonderful competitors in Erik Olson and Steven Iglehart. Even though I had never come close to beating Erik in a single race, I began the race by staying on his tail and seeing if I could keep up with his fast pace. Through the mile mark, he was in at 4:34 and I was right behind him at 4:37. He ended up winning the race by opening up a larger gap during the next two miles. Even though I fell off of him during that race, the fast start prepared me well for the state race. So, when my first mile at State was 4:41, I felt comfortable and confident. Steven ended up running a great race and passing me for second place, and his competition drove me during the final mile as well.

9) Tell us a little about your NCS race against St. Mary's Dan Maxwell.
My NCS race against Dan Maxwell was amazing in that everything worked exactly as I had hoped it would. I had never run against him before, but I knew that he would be gunning for the lead and that he would put up some tough competition. He lead the race for the first mile and a half or so, taking out a quick pace that left the rest of the field far behind. I hung right on his back as we cruised to a 4:45 mile and continued to stay with him from there. With strategic aid from my college running mate Nick LaPlant, I broke away from Maxwell with a short spurt of energy just before the two mile mark. This was the plan; sprint on that downhill straightaway to create separation. From there, I continued to break away. Dan Maxwell ran an excellent race and an even better one at state, where we again were neck and neck for most of the race.

10) This was your first state meet experience. Tell us about some of highlights during the two days you were in Fresno.
I had a great time in Fresno with all of teammates and coaches and family. It was the teams' goal to make it to Fresno, and we couldn't have been happier to be there. The highpoint was the race itself. I ran the best race of my life to this point, contesting for the lead during the first mile and hanging on during an competitive last mile for third place.

11) You did golf last year during the spring. Have you decided what you want to do yet during the spring and if you did, what helped contribute to making that decision?
This year I have decided to do Track instead of golf. One of the main things that drove me to do Track was all of the great friends that I have made on the Cross-Country team that are doing track. This is the last season of competetion for the seniors, and I can't wait to spend all of my afternoons with them.

12) Anything else you would like to add.
Go Tam!!!!

Thank you very much Daniel! AJC

1 comment:

Erik said...

Way to go Dan. You are an amazing runner, and I am glad that you have decided to run track. You are such a great competitor in MCAL and I look forward to your success.