US News
Cross Country
West Region
12/7/02 at Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut CA

Doug Speck interviews the boys

Lauren Jespersen, 5th

Q: What is your initial reaction to the race?
A: I'm happy to have qualified again. It will be a lot of fun next weekend. I'm looking forward to it.

Q: What was your strategy coming in and how did the race develop according to that?
A: Because nationals is next weekend, I didn't want to come out here and hammer it. I figured if I was in position to win, I'd go for it, but I didn't want to kill myself trying to go for it. I know that top 8 qualify and get to race next weekend. So I didn't see the point in coming out here and just wasting all my energy.

Q: Have you heard anything about the San Diego course, and how to approach that.
A: I don't really know much about the San Diego course yet. My coach ran on it [Marnie Mason] and I'll be talking to her next week.

Andrew Jones, 3rd

DS: So what's your first reaction?
AJ: I'm real tired. That's about it. I'm happy I did as well as I did. But all I can think of right now is how tired I am.

DS: Did you have a place in mind coming in?
AJ: Yeah, I just wanted to get top 24. It's tough to set a goal in a race like this; there's so many great guys. I just wanted to run as well as I could, and it worked out for me.

DS: How fast did you run last year in track, and what distances did you run?
AJ: Nothing great at all. I'm not a very good mile and 2 miler. I think my fastest if maybe 9:54 and 4:28 or something. The longer I go the better I get.

DS: So, you were undefeated this fall in cross country?
AJ: Yeah, I sure was.

DS: What did you think near the end of the race when you were in the top 8?
AJ: I was just concentrating on holding on. I was expecting guys to start going by me. I was just trying to make it in.
[Jones "made it in" to third]

DS: Do you do a lot of your running at altitude?
AJ: Yes, Gillette is about 4500 feet.

DS: Do you feel different in a race at sea level?
AJ: It's a lot easier to breathe. I didn't have to worry about that, just my leg speed and being able to hold on.

DS: What are your thoughts about San Diego? Have you heard about the course?
AJ: I sure haven't. I just want to go there and try to do as well as I can there too, and see how that works out.

Tim Nelson, 4th

DS: What's your gut reaction to the race?
TN: I was really, really excited once I found I had my kick at the end, because I was a little worried there for a while being in 11th place coming off the last hill. But I just had it, got going, and the rest is history.

DS: Did you plan to be a ways back? People were kind of surprised at how far back you were at 2 miles.
TN: I did want to take it easy early, because people die on that last hill. I knew that after that I'd be able to find my kick and get it going.

DS: As you look toward San Diego, what are your thoughts?
TN: I'm really excited to go to San Diego. Florida was nice for all the activities, but San Diego is definitely a better place to run.

DS: Have you heard about the course?
TN: I know there's a lot of legend to it, because there are so many guys who have run there. I'm looking forward to getting in the spirit of running there. I heard the course is nice, and has hills, which is nice because I like hills.

DS: Are you closer to a college decision?
TN: I'm making all my visits beteen now and January, so we'll see.

Mike Poe, 1st

"The race was just off and on the whole way. There's no one person that pulled away; there's no one person that fell behind. Just a bunch of guys the whole way. I can't believe I won because I don't believe I was expected to even be in top 8.

Q: Were there one or two guys you were most concerned with and tried to key off of?
A: I've heard so much about the guys; who hasn't. I just wanted the mentality that I could beat anybody. It could happen or it could not. But today it did, so I'm pretty excited.

Q: How do you feel physically?
A: I feel pretty good. I was real sick on Thursday and couldn't train that day.

Q: Was it your plan to push it [on the Switchbacks]?
A: I just went the way the race flowed. I had no plan coming in here. It's hard to have a plan when you're basically a darkhorse.

Q: What are your thoughts for next week?
A: I just want to run my best. I'm going to go and enjoy it.

Galen Rupp and Alec Wall, 6th and 7th

Q: Your gut reaction to the race?

Wall: There's not really much to say; I'm just happy I'm going to San Diego. It hasn't really set in yet.

Rupp: I was just hoping to qualify. I feel pretty good.

Q: Your strategy beforehand?

Wall: My strategy was just to get out in the front and hang on as long as I could and hope to make it in the top eight.

Rupp: I was just trying to do the same thing. Stay with the lead pack and try to cover any moves that guys were making. Hopefully, I could try and take it easy on the track [the last 300 meters on the stadium track], but there were nine guys so I still had to work.

Q: Can you comment on the great competition in Oregon this year? What's that done for you as a runner?

Wall: It's definitely elevated all of us. We're able to work with each other in the off season and train together. That's where the biggest improvement has come from.

Rupp: If you have good competition it pushes you to do better. It's good for Oregon, I think.

Q: So how do you think the West is going to do with other parts of the country?

Wall: I think we've got a very tough region, and I think we should probably take it.

Rupp: We're going to dominate!

Mohamed Trafeh, 8th

Q: Your thoughts on the race?
A: I felt good before the race. But when I was coming down Reservoir I started cramping up and I was scared I wouldn't make it.

Q: What was your strategy coming in and how did the race go in relation to that?
A: I was trying to make top three, and if I ran the same race as I did at the Sweepstakes [Mt. SAC Invitational] I could have made it. I'm not used to the crowding.

Q: So the number of people in the race did affect your strategy?
A: Yes. You had to sprint, jog, sprint, jog.

Q: What place were you in at the mile?
A: I was maybe 10th.

Q: So you were always a part of that lead pack?
A: Yes. I stayed with them.

Q: How does this rate in your athletic career? Is it your biggest thrill so far?
A: Yes, this is my biggest accomplishment.

Q: What have you heard about San Diego?
A: It's nice, and I love running this kind of course [hilly].


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