1) When did you first start running and competing in cross country? What about track and Field? Have you played other sports?
I guess you could say I started running in 6th grade, but it was really just messing around for a few weeks. It was a great experience, we had a fantastically energetic coach named Andy Murray, and he's probably the reason I'm still running today. He got me hooked on running. I didn't race XC until my sophomore year. As for other sports, I've been a competitive swimmer for Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics since I was 8 years old. Swimming was my first athletic love, and I just could never bring myself to give it up.
2) Who were the runners you looked up to in CCS as you were first starting out in high school?
I wanted to break Phil MacQuitty's frosh 3200 record, but then I realized that was ridiculously hard. I probably looked up to our top runner, Kranti Pedadda, the most in CCS. Great guy, so intelligent, and ran for all the right reasons.
3) What were your PRs during your freshman season in both sports? Highlights?
Freshman year I only did track, and I ran 4:37 and 9:41. The big highlight was SCVAL finals, where I had probably the best race of my life and ran 9:41, a 18 sec PR, and made CCS. Tunnel vision for at least a half hour after that race, soooo painful!!
4) What about your sophomore year? Highlights?
In XC I ran 16:14 at Stanford invite, got 5th in D1 behind Darren Fahy. That, and getting 5th at CCS D1 (15:30) were the biggest highlights.
In track I ran 4:36 and 9:21 at Arcadia. I was 5th at ccs in the 3200. Highlight was definitely Arcadia and winning the open heat there.
5) Going into your junior year, did you do anything different in the summer in terms of training? What was your weekly mileage?
The biggest difference was having a cohesive plan. I don't think we made a huge mileage jump (never kept track before then), maybe 30-40 mpw with a 50-mile week once. But Willie Harmatz was giving me workouts at this point (I had no high school coach that summer) and I had a lot of confidence in his coaching ability, so I knew the season would go well.
6) What were some of your highlights from your junior season in xc?
Biggest highlight was 9th at the Mt. SAC individual sweeps race, 14:50 was the fastest CCS time since Ben Sitler on that course. Also won Stanford D1 race in 15:28.
7) You broke 9:00 in the 3200 in last year's state track meet. Tell us a little about that race, how it unfolded for you and what was your plan going into that race?
It was one of those races where everything just falls into place. I got the inside lane on the outer waterfall, and just sat in the middle/back of the best pack in state history on the best weather night in state history. It was impossible to run slow. I moved up a bit on the 3rd 800 like I planned, saw 7:57 on the clock with 1 to go and thought "62.8. I can do this!" No idea why I thought of that split, but I ran exactly that and finished as the happiest 12th place finisher you've ever seen.
8) Tell us a little about your coaches and how they have helped you develop into the runner you are today.
I've been truly blessed to have a fantastic support structure throughout my career. I mentioned Andy Murray, he got me excited about running. Jeff Payne was my coach when I was an underclassman, and he made my running sustainable. He taught me how to properly approach training and racing, balancing fun with hard work. I was truly saddened when he had to step down when his wife went into remission for cancer.
Willie Harmatz has allowed me to progress into the higher levels of high school track and taught me to train efficiently. He also taught me to believe in the work I put in and to expect more of myself, not to overthink races. And I can't forget Mike Dudley, who runs a great running camp during the summer that Richard Ho and I do, called Dudley's summer boot camp. Coach Dudley and his wife Nancy are incredibly selfless and giving with their time and dedication to everyone who does the camp, and it's really an honor to know them.
My current High School coach, Kirk Flatow, is one of the best high school coaches around he's really opened my eyes to the resources available to those who ask. He's gotten Olympic gold medalists and pro runners like Stephanie Brown-Trafton and Josh Cox to speak at our school, and he even hired 2008 US triple jump champion Erica McLain to coach our jumps team!! We have a current Olympian coaching our jumps team!! How cool is that?
9) What about your training partners. How have they helped you improve as a runner?
I honestly believe that Chris and Sean have been the reason I am where I am today. When you train with a pure 800 guy like Sean who can drop 57s in practice without trying, or a guy like Chris who has split 49 in a 400 and runs 4:08 like he does, you develop a kick and a race sense that allows you to compete well in every race you enter. People probably didn't expect me to be competitive in the Azusa meet, but training with Chris and Sean makes all things possible. And moreover, I've made two of the best friends I will ever have. It is a blessing and an honor to run with them, and I get to go to college with Chris and see Sean frequently since he's staying in California for college.
10) What do you feel are your key workouts during track season that give you the confidence to compete with the best in state?
Honestly, we don't really have recurring workouts at all. Willie's program is mostly based on being able to do 1-2 more efforts after the workout is done, so we rarely do workouts that push past a 6-7 out of 10 on the pain scale. Typically we will do something like this, from the Monday before state track:
15min w/u w/45sec surge at end, stretch, 4 strides
1200 @71-71-69 69.5-70.5-68.5=3:28.5
2x600 @67.5 33.5-34-33.5=1:41
800 @69-67 69.5-68.5=2:18
1 lap walk/jog, Put on spikes
10min buffer jog in trainers, back to spikes
2x300 @31 31.5=47.8
11) You will be attending Stanford University next year. Can you describe the recruiting process and how many other schools were in the mix for you?
Recruiting is an awesome reward for hard work and success in high school running, but it can be detrimental to your season if you don't approach it correctly. It's a ton of fun; recruits get to go places your classmates will never go, meet people they will never meet, and have incredible experiences they will never have. I've had the most fun of my life on recruiting trips, but I got a little complacent and ended up having an awful senior year XC season partly because I was out of town every other weekend. Morale of story: my priorities should have been:
2. Putting in the running work
3. Recruit trips
With that said, I was recruited by a bunch of places, but got called by Stanford, Oregon, UCLA, Harvard, Brown, Oklahoma State, UNC, Georgetown, and Columbia. I took visits to UNC, Oklahoma State, Harvard, and Stanford in that order. My final visit was going to be Oregon, but once I saw Stanford and got in academically, it was a done deal.
12) Anything else you would like to add.
Eat raw red peppers before your race, congrats to Blake Haney on winning the Azusa race, and thanks for the interview!
Thank you very much for your time Kevin! AJC