1) How did you get your start in running? How old were you?
When I was in Ethiopia before moving to California, I used to watch the world cross country, track, and Olympic competitions on television. Watching those competitions excited me a lot especially because the runners (Kenenisa Bekele, Haile Gebrselassie, Tirunesh Dibaba, and Meseret Defar just to name a few) were from my country and were the top runners over the long distances (10k and 5k including cross country). They were my motivation and I got the love of running from watching them. Then I started running to school (about 3 miles away from where I lived) thinking that I would be a professional like those runners one day, although I had no idea how, because I was not in a running club or anything like that. Then, at age 12 I moved to California and started going to Rancho Milpitas Middle School. In PE period, we (students) used to run a mile every Wednesday and PE was my favorite class. I was the fastest runner in my class. I did not know there were after school sport activities like cross country, soccer, track & field, basketball, and volleyball at the time because there were no such thing where I used to live. Mrs. Catherine Thompson (my science teacher) was my favorite teacher. Besides teaching, Mrs. Thompson taught me a lot of things like how there's after school sport activities and encouraged me that I would be the best runner. The summer before 8th grade, Mrs. Thompson took me to a 5k road run called, Bubba Gump. I did well in that run, placing 3rd in my age group and I learned what a competition really is from that race.
2) What were your times going into high school?
In my 8th grade, I did not know when cross country season started and was too late to be in the school's cross country team. So I missed cross country and only did track. During track, I did the 800m, 1600m and my PR's were 2:27 for the 800m and 5:06 for the 1600m.
3) What were your most memorable times and races from your freshman year in cross country and track and field?
My most memorable time and race from my freshman year in cross country was running 16:12 on the Crystal Springs course (2.95 miles). During track and field, I won the Frosh/Soph Top 8 meet running 9:40 in the 3200m..
4) What about your sophomore seasons in both sports?
Sophomore year, my most memorable time and race in cross country was CCS finals at Toro Park (3 miles) 15:52, placing 2nd in the boys D1 race, and in my sophomore year track season, 9:18 for the 3200m, placing 4th in CCS finals.
5) What did you do over the summer to prepare yourself for your junior season in cross country? Mileage? Workouts? Any races?
To prepare myself for my junior season, I planned to do long runs over the summer (about 50-60 miles per week) and run the Los Gatos All Comers 5 miles at Los Gatos High, but I got sick just a week before the All Comers 5 miles run. So I stopped running for a couple of weeks and had to start running little by little again before our Cross Country started.
6) What do you feel was your best race during this past cross country season?
My best race during my junior cross country season was the CCS Finals D1 race at Crystal Springs, winning the race and running the fastest time out of all divisions and fastest time of the 2011 cross country season on the Crystal Springs course (2.95 miles 14:59).
7) Tell us a little about your state meet race and what you learned from that race that will help you next year.
At the state meet, I went out too fast during the first mile and got tired the last two miles. Also, I don't think I prepared well for the state meet as much as I did for CCS Finals, but it was a big lesson for me so that I can fix my mistake and improve next year.
Favorite distance in track? Favorite track workout? Favorite opponent? Favorite distance run? Favorite xc course?
My favorite distance in track is the 3200m and mile repeats are my favorite workout. Mile repeats are hard, but they make you feel confident that you can keep up and run fast in races like 3200m even if it's really fast pace because you have done more mile repeats in practice. My favorite opponent runner is Richard Ho of Leland. I've been racing with him for a couple of times in both xc and track and he is a great runner. My favorite distance runs are long runs, running with my teammates (40-50 minutes run). My favorite xc course is Crystal Springs course. I have been running there so many times and that's were CCS finals takes place every other year and I'm used to it so I feel confident when competing in CCS finals.
9) What does a typical week look like for you during track? When are your workouts? What is the distance of your longest run? What workout gives you the most confidence heading into a race?
We usually do a combination of track and road runs, like speed workouts on the track the first day and then road runs (30-45 minutes) the next day. And over the weekends we do 60-65 minutes intervals (3min medium, 1min hard, and 2min easy) individually. The mile repeats and intervals give me the most confidence heading into a race because they are hard workouts and hard workouts pay off.
10) What races are you looking forward to the rest of this track and field season?
The races I am looking forward to are CCS Top 8 meet this Friday and CCS Championships. I really want to do well at CCS finals and make it to California State Championship.
11) Tell us a little about your coach and how he has helped you progress from your freshman season to now.
Coach Bridget Hall is a great coach. She has been very supportive of me throughout my running career and she always pushes me to do my best.
12) Anything else you would like to add.
I enjoy www.crosscountryexpress.com, a great website with up-to-date information for us runners in CA. Thank you for the interview.
Thank you very much for your time Yohaness! AJC