Friday, October 10, 2008

Catching up with St. Ignatuis' runner Greg Innes...

Today, we hear from St. Ignatius senior, Greg Innes who was the individual winner of the first WCAL meet this past Wednesday at Golden Gate Park. His team tied with Bellarmine for 1st place but lost out on the 6th man tie breaker. The SI team is one of the favorites for the CCS Division III title this year. Greg also had a fine junior track and field season winning the 1600 and 3200 races at the WCAL championship meet and then went on to record a PR of 4:18.56 at the CCS Trials.

1) How did you get your start in distance running?
My start in running extends all the way back to 5th grade when I joined the track team at my grammar school, St. Dunstan's in Millbrae. Though my coach, Mr. Larry Cappell, initially entered me in the sprints, he knew I would be a distance runner in high school. I didn't realize it at the time, but it was his inspiration that motivated my running in the first place.

2) What other sports have you played?
I played nine years of soccer, four years of basketball, and two years of baseball ranging from five years old up until my sophomore year, when I decided to give up soccer to train year-round for running.

3) When did you first realize that you can be a pretty good distance runner? In my freshman year I ran on the freshman team throughout the cross country season. Then my coach told me I would be running at the State Meet. When I turned in a 16:55 at Woodward Park for a 54 second PR and 4th place on SI’s first state podium team in 10 years, I was pretty excited.

4) As a young runner at SI, what runners did you look up to on your own team or other teams? As many would expect, I looked up to the best runners on my team. Nick Alvarado was ranked 6th in DIII statewide at the beginning of the year and seeing him put in the extra miles after practice and doubling up some days was when I realized you get out of this sport what you put into it. I also looked up to Ben Sitler, the HS XC All-American from St. Francis, M.V.

5) Tell us a little about your junior season in track and field. Highlights?
My junior year track season had a few highlights. I finally won a WCAL championship, taking the 1600m title. A few hours later I won the 3200m. The following week I reached my season goal of sub-4:20 in the 1600m, with a 4:18 at the CCS Trials. Despite a so-so result of 7th in 4:22 at the CCS Finals, stepping to the line and running with Brad Surh, Mohamed Abdalla and Rylan Hunt (for a lap at least) was a great experience.

6) Who are your coaches at SI and how has each one helped you become the runner you are today?
Chad Evans, Al Berrin, Jerry Caskey, and Helmut Schmidt (and track coach Matt Farley) have collectively taught me a few things beyond what’s expected of cross country coaches. Besides teaching me all the running stuff: the physical changes that training bring about, the importance or drills and core work, why we train the way we do, etc., they have taught me some essential values. What I do with my life outside of cross country is much more important than what I do in any race. In other words, who I am as a person and how I use my entire education (academic, spiritual, extra-curricular) bears much more significance in the long run than my PR’s or major accomplishments in this sport. Also, through example and direct discourse, they taught me that our number one priority is community building. The safety and wellness of our friends, family, neighbors, and competitors outranks everything else we do as members of the cross country team at SI. These are lessons the coaches teach everyone every year.

7) Tell us a little about your summer training. What did you do differently this year than previous years?
This summer was not a whole lot different than in previous years. We upped the mileage about 20% over last summer and did a few more long hill workouts than usual, but the basic formula was the same. A balance of volume and intensity and good recovery are the keys.

8) What do you think are your key workouts during cross country season?
We focus on hill training and lactate threshold intervals with fairly minimal rest time, and with Golden Gate Park just a mile from school we never run out of areas to run these workouts. We also run tempo-style workouts in some of our early and mid-season invitationals. These are great because they give us the opportunity get some race-quality work done without overdoing it.

9) Following the first WCAL meet, it's pretty clear that Bellarmine and SI will have quite a battle for the WCAL championship. Who do you think will be your team's competition at CCS?
The rest of the WCAL season will be exciting, no doubt. Bellarmine deserves a lot of credit. They are in the mix year in and year out. It’s clear that both teams have put in the work to succeed at the league level and beyond. In CCS DIII, Aptos and Willow Glen are the main competition, as they have been the past few years.

10) What advice would you give a young runner just starting out in cross country?
Kids need to enjoy themselves, first and foremost. I always looked forward to cross country practice as a freshman, and I still do now. With regards to improvement as a runner, dedication and consistency are very important. There are some lazy summer mornings where it is a struggle to get out of bed for a 7am hill workout, but those days pay dividends when the season gets underway.

11) College plans? How much of an impact will running make in picking a college?
I am applying to a number of Jesuit schools and schools on the west coast. The recruiting process is exciting, but running is not the deciding factor in my college choice. There are many factors, but receiving an education of the whole person is my main priority.

12) Anything else you would like to add.
Thanks so much for the interview offer. After a long and busy school day I was excited to see your message. I always enjoy reading the blog.

Thank you very much for your time Greg. AJC

No comments:

Popular Posts