Sunday, February 01, 2009

Catching up with Chico St. runner, Joey Kochlacs...

Over the next few weeks, I will try to contact as many recent graduates from Northern California schools who are currently running in college. I think it will be interesting to get their perspective as they reflect back to their high school careers and of their present situation in college.

I will start with former Campolindo runner and current Chico St. runner Joey Kochlacs. He was a state meet qualifier in high school in both cross country and track and field. Following a redshirt season and some unfortunate injuries, Joey is excited for the upcoming track season as he details below.

1) Looking back at your high school career, what do you feel was your best race in cross country? Track and Field?
My best cross country race would have to be the Nike Invite(formerly Adidas) my senior year. State was roughly equivalent that year, but Nike was the breakthrough race.

In track it would have to be the NCS MOC. All year long I would be hanging out with my girlfriend and tell her around 10 oclock that I had to leave so I could win MOC, then I went home and slept. It was kind of a joke the way I said it but nevertheless I went home and slept. Then I won MOC and ironically broke up with her the day before state.

2) What do you think you did in high school that helped prepare you for college in terms of training?
I did more mileage than I was told to(usually 60-70). Long term development requires mileage at a younger age, an aerobic base over a long period of time cannot be underestimated. In retrospect I would have started running before I did, which was my sophomore year during track season, so that I would be better set up for success in the long term. There is a lot of catch up to do now. The good thing was that my coaches, Walsh and Chuck, both helped with my raw speed. Chuck also got my form/mechanics together which is a major plus.

3) How did you end up choosing Chico St.?
I was looking at UCSB and some other UCs when the legend Chris Walsh, who had been my coach my soph and jr years told me about Chico State and another legendary coach, Gary Towne. I looked up some results and I was amazed at what some people had done. A 10:20 two miler becomes a 9:05 steeple chaser, a 9:09 two miler becomes a 27:48 10k runner, it just seemed like everyone could improve from Gary's training. For the most part this is true, but the athletes' decisions outside of running effect their progression most.

4) What has been your toughest adjustment to running in college?
I honestly don't think the mileage increase was too rough. The toughest has been the amount of crazy setbacks that I could not prevent. I fell on black ice, lost a week from my knee being slashed open and another when it got infected. Several major sicknesses which I could not or could barely run through, the worst of which was tonsillitis which was lanced. I finally had my tonsils removed 3 weeks ago though, so that should be the end of the sicknesses.

5) You redshirted during your freshman year in college. How do you think that year will help you in your progression as a runner?
Well it is kind of trading your freshman season for your fifth year season. That could be trading a season of 15:00 5ks for a season of 13:50 5ks depending on the athlete and their progression. Long term development is always a plus.

6) Besides the competition, what are some of the biggest differences between high school and college running?
There are no dual meets, you don't race nearly as often because the races are longer and more taxing on your body. You really have to adjust to the race distances too, I still have to do that.

7) What do you miss about high school running that is not present in college?
No one in high school was so insistent on making me stay up late or being loud in my house late at night. I like my roommates a lot but I still need earplugs here because I am one of those people who don't function properly when they get less than 9 hours of sleep.

8) You have been coached by three very successful coach (Chris Walsh, Chuck Woolridge and Gary Towne). Tell us a little about each coach and what they have meant to your running.
These three coaches are amazing in different aspects. Walsh was really great at inspiring, he made me love running, it was really a great thing that he was my first coach. He oozed optimism. He also had some solid training methods, with multiple top 3 at state finishes in XC and even a state title. He was good and old school, with an aerobic long term approach mixed with some speed workouts etc, but more than anything he inspired us. I also loved Roctober, Led Zeppelin all the way to MT. Sac, Clovis, that was classic Walsh.

Chuck has been said to be Walsh's polar opposite in some ways, he can be a hard ass but I was able to get along with him really well. He wasn't old school, he was Jack Daniels Running Formula in a lot of ways. He was plyometrics etc, form work, vo2 max, lactate threshold. He was cool though, and at times hilarious to an extent that was surprising if not inappropriate. As far as my running, I owe my efficiency to him as well as successful seasons that got me a spot on Chico's roster.

Gary Towne is an awesome coach. He knows his stuff, his training program is great. He always helps me when I have problems, questions, anything. He has helped me grasp the long term approach very strongly, I have been able to ignore my many setbacks to an extent because I have faith in what we are doing. Gary is also a really cool person, I would probably go into his office every day just to hang out and talk about stuff but he is really busy so I try to let him do what he does. Sometimes I see the light in his office is on after 9 o'clock if we are driving by, going to get food or something. He works hard to recruit, come up with our individual training, get people into races, work with the athletic department, go to coaching clinics/meetings, go to practice with us, sometimes he is running 90 miles a week, and he mentors at a local school.

9) What distance will you be mainly focusing on in track?

5k and 10k.

10) What are your goals for this coming season?
Well I would love to get to Division Two Nationals, so by necessity my goals have to be 14:25 which would likely make it in the 5k or 30:25ish which would make it in the 10k. The 10k one is a little more likely but still a far reach from my fitness right now.

11) What would your advice be for prospective college runners?

Go somewhere where the coach looks long term. I will probably be better at this question later in life because right now my mind is "running running running."

12) Anything else you would like to add.

Uhm. Thanks to my coaches and friends.

Thank you very much Joey! AJC


If you would like to see other athletes who are currently running in college interviewed, please forward me their name and contact information to albertjcaruana@gmail.com.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Find and interview Matt Petrillo. It would be interesting to see what he has been up to recently.

Anonymous said...

Heard Dimitry Kisulyuk (spelling?) went to MIT but is he running there? he had such a successful time in HS XC and Track !

Sterling Lockert said...

i <3 joey

Anonymous said...

Try contacting Harry Skandera the coach over at SRCS about Zach Nave