Today's interview was conducted by David Taylor of xcnation.com. We continue to highlight some of the top individuals on the nationally ranked teams in the 5 x 3200m. Seattle Prep is currently ranked 35th with Keenan as their 2nd fastest runner at 9:20.81. Their number one runner is sophomore Joe Hardy who has run 9:07.72. Keenan made the school's varsity cross country team as a freshman and ran 9:46.74 on the track. He improved his 3200m. time to 9:24.94 last year as he qualified for the Washington State meet by winning the district meet. This past season with Hardy and Piper leading the way, Seattle Prep qualified to the Washington state meet and also ran at the NXN Northwest Regional Meet.
1. Three words that describe you and why?
Thorough: When I do something I make sure I do it with absolute completion. When our coach tells us we are running 90 minutes that day, I try and make sure my teammates and I don’t stop at 89 because we are back at the start, I make sure we get in that extra one minute. I try and translate this as well into all aspects of my life including academics.
Hyper: My friends have called me “the Hyper Piper” since I was a youngster, and for good reason. My leg is always bouncing and I’m always goofing around with my friends and teammates before and after practice, wrestling and what-not.
Competitive: I love people and being around them and interacting. I feed off of others’ energy and although I love joking around, I think this attribute translates very directly into running because I race a ton better with someone around pushing me. I think humans can accomplish far greater feats when someone is right next to them aiming for the same goal. This is why I found my fellow Washingtonian Marcus Dickson’s 4:05 even more impressive. He had a runner with him for two laps but after that it was all mental strength and perseverance.
2. What does Passion mean to you, how does it apply to running and perhaps succeeding in life?
Passion is a fire. It is not a want to succeed, but rather, a need. It is not something that someone has for everything they do in life but it comes out in situations where that person really loves what they are doing. For instance, about every great race I have ever run has been under incredibly high pressure where either me, or my teams success is on the line. I drew upon my passion to guide me in those races and push me to the finish. I don’t think that passion is exclusively for racing though as well. I have a passion for science and medicine and that will hopefully open doors for me to get into a good school or become a doctor because my love and passion for science has granted me good grades in those subjects.
3. How do you want to be remembered as a runner? An all-time great, a record breaker, or one of many? An example of something greater?
Although I would love to be known for my personal achievements, I want to be remembered for the greatness of my team. I want to stand out as a leader on the team both in my performances but also in character. I cannot deny that I greatly desire breaking my schools records and competing for state championships, but I think that being know for being a leader on an incredible team would be enough for me. I also want to be remembered as a runner that glorified God, not himself.
4. If you met an 8th grader transitioning into high school who dreamt of being a successful distance runner, what words of advice would you give to him?
Enjoy freshman year because it doesn’t last long. I loved the days of being an innocent freshman with no expectations and no pressures, where I could be as obnoxious as I wanted and people just accepted that it was because I was a freshman. On the running side, I think that it is important to get freshman on a good training regiment that won’t burn them out early. My coach did this very well with me and I just hate seeing freshman get injured, peak early or burnout and get discouraged. I also think they will learn through much racing but they should get a hang of going out a bit reserved and letting their racing instinct take over the second half of the race.
5. Humility in all things...what does that phrase mean to you?
To me it means carrying myself with dignity and character, and being humble with every accomplishment. It is vitally important not to run for recognition because praise is hollow and it will lead you down a path of self-centeredness and even disappointment.
6. Looking back, what is the most significant moment in your running career?
The most significant moment in running for me was winning my district 3200 championship as a sophomore. Despite my race plan, I took the lead with 600 to go and never looked back. I passed out for a bit after this race and also ran a solid PR at the time of 9:24. At this point I decided to put my everything into running and chase some incredible goals.
7. What other sports have you played besides cross country and track and field?
In high school I stuck strictly to running after realizing my talent in it but in grade school I played on up to 9 teams a year! I played basketball, soccer (two teams), swimming, cross country, water polo, lacrosse, tennis and track. I gave up on baseball early after getting one hit the entire year.
8. How did you get your start in running?
I was a decent runner in grade school but I hated it. Our school has some amazing coaches and after making some great relationships with runners over the summer freshman year, I joined the team, which took a bit of prodding from my parents. It was probably the greatest decision of my life and I look forward to continuing it the four following years after high school.
9. What were some of your highlights from your high school career so far?
Getting the freshman record in the 3200 which had stood for 38 years, only to happily lose it the next year to Joe Hardy. Winning Metros and Districts as a sophomore and competing at state in the 1600 and 3200. Getting second at state to North Central and beating Kamiakin by one point and finishing tenth. Running at Nike BorderClash with teammate Joe Hardy.
10. What is your favorite racing moment thus far?
Running down the straightaway in first place for the district championships then crossing the line and being able to pass out knowing I was going on to state, as a district champion.
11. Tell us a little about your family and how they have helped you develop during your years in high school.
I am the youngest of six and I couldn’t ask for a more loving family. They all care so much about me and think I am an all-star but what helps me the most is that they keep me grounded. My parents will tell me great job after a race, no matter what feat I have accomplished but that is it. My dad has always taught me to be humble and to understand how blessed I am to be able to do what I do so they try not to pump up my ego. They have also supported me by getting me a pair of spikes for track, driving me to races and most importantly, just being there to watch. It means a lot to me.
12. Your coach...how has he influenced your running, team?
Our coach Doc was once an incredible runner himself. He held the Texas state 800 record in high school in a 1:50 flat on a dirt track. He is an old guy now but he is still full of energy. He will give us inspirational talks and advise from his years of running and coaching that will stay with us forever. He teaches us to run as a team, and to run for the team. He makes us the best we can be. It’s as simple as that. Our other coach Ben Sauvage has also had a tremendous impact on the team, always staying positive and running with us every day.
13. Favorite distance in track? Favorite run? Favorite invitational? Favorite opponent(s)? Favorite track workouts? Favorite run?
My favorite distance is the 3200. My favorite run is our long runs at the Redmond watershed where there is dozens upon dozens of miles of beautiful trails to hammer on. My teammates aren’t necessarily opponents but they push me a lot when I race with them. I also like racing kids like Austen Frostad of North Central because he is a fast guy and an awesome person off the track, plus he pushes me when we face off.
14. What races are you most looking forward to as you look ahead to the rest of your track and field season?
I cannot wait for state. The field is always so insanely fast and the atmosphere is unlike anything else. I dream of racing the state 1600 and 3200 almost every day.
15. Running ultimately will not define who you are, how would you like to be defined?
As a person with true character. I love to goof around and I have a great sense of humor but I also try my best to be a genuinely good guy with good intentions. I want to be known as someone who pursued lofty goals, persevered through the tough spots and ultimately came out a better person. I also want to be known a person for others, one that serves and one that loves.
16. Favorite running movie, running song, and favorite runner?
I like every Prefontaine movie but my favorite is Without Limits. I have a pump up song every year that I listen to before I race and they have been Till I Collapse by Eminem, Over by Drake and All of the Lights by Kanye West, mostly because they have up-tempo beats. My favorite runners are the O’Donoghue McDonald brothers. I got the chance to run with Drew my freshman year and the moment he broke 9 in the two-mile, I knew I wanted to as well. Both of them are studs and guys with large hearts and tremendous