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Interval Session #84 - Sarah Andrews

By SteveU - November 20, 2008

At the Woodbridge Invitational earlier this fall, most of the attention for the girls sweepstakes race was focused on California runners like Alex Dunne and Kaylin Mahoney, but not so much a junior from The Woodlands, Texas that was relatively unknown outside the Lone Star State.  Certainly no one expected a run on Christine Babcock’s course record, but out of the darkness in the nighttime affair came Sarah Andrews, decisively beating California’s best and clocking an eye-popping 16:17 for 3M.

The next week, the message boards were filled with questions about Andrews’ background.  If you looked, you would find that Andrews had competed at state her first two seasons and while she was “just” 18th as a soph (fell during race), she came back for an impressive 6th at NXN South.  Hard work during the off-season helped get her down to 10:38 for 3200 this past spring, with several races around 10:40.

Still, this fall has been another giant leap.  To emphatically confirm the talent displayed at Woodbridge, Andrews ran a terrific 17:07 at the Nike South meet, winning by almost a minute.  She has continued through an unbeaten season, winning the 5A 2-mile race at state last week in 10:45, and now looks to lead her SO#1 club at NXN South this weekend.  SteveU catches up with her for a few minutes as she prepares for Saturday.
1) Congrats on your state title last week and your season so far.  Can you tell us about the race last week, your plan going in, and how it unfolded for you?  From what I’ve heard, the wind and the dust were really tough.

Thanks very much, it's been a very exciting season for me and for my team.  Last weekend was so great; it was the first time the girls team from our high school won state since 1989 and the first win for Coach Hansen and Coach Saldana after six years coaching the girls team at The Woodlands. 

I went into the race feeling very good and planning on running the same way as I have done all season.  I went out early and lead the most of first mile, which was directly into a very strong wind.  I was worried about the other girls drafting behind me, but I was able to pull away a bit after the first mile mark when we turned away from the wind.  The dust was pretty bad, too, especially during the awards ceremony, but none of us cared too much because we were all so happy and excited about the win.

2)  Are you feeling like you’re where you want to be going into the post-season?  Obviously, you’re entered in NXN South this weekend, but are you also considering running Foot Locker South?

Everything has gone the way we've planned and I feel very good going into NXN South on Saturday.  We are very lucky to run on our home course and the weather is supposed be ideal.  Now that state is over, we are all focused and excited about running well as a team and hopefully qualifying for Portland.  I would love to be able to run in the Foot Locker meet, but that would mean competing in four meets in four weeks and missing a lot of school, so for now I'm just focused on running well this weekend.

3) You’ve had a lot of highlights this season, but the first one that caught a lot of folks’ attention was the Woodbridge meet.  Was that the first time out there for you and your team, or had you run it before?  Can you talk about the excitement you felt running in that night-time atmosphere and winning with such a great time?

That was not our first trip out to California.  We went to Stanford last year, which was a very fun trip and a great experience.  Coach Hansen has a tradition of taking the team to one out-of-state meet each season, so Coach Saldana researched the meet at Woodbridge.  None of us had ever really heard of it, so we were shocked when we got there and saw all those teams and they said there were 11,000 runners!  I loved the cool weather and there was no humidity, and it is always fun running under the lights.  Our first big meet of the year at the end of August is called "Friday Night Lights," so Woodbridge reminded me of that on a much larger scale. 

I really didn't know what to expect, because we don't run 3-mile races in Texas, so it was really great to run well and a big surprise to post the second fastest time to Christine Babcock, who is an amazing runner.

4) The Nike South meet was obviously a big one, too.  What was the biggest thing you came away with from a great race like that?

The Nike South meet was a big confidence builder for me and for my team.  We knew we would be running against all the best teams in the state, as well as some from outside of Texas.  It was so encouraging that we did so well, not only for state but also for this weekend, because it's going to be all the same teams again.  It definitely gave me more confidence running longer distance races since Nike South is a 5K race.

5) The Woodlands has obviously had an outstanding season and really moved up the list in the NXN South rankings from the year before.  Can you talk about what has helped the team as a whole and what you’ve felt called upon to bring to this team as its leader?  Also, tell us about Coach Hansen and how his style and methods have brought this level of success this fall.

We have an awesome group of girls this year.  Everyone on this team has such a big heart, and we have all improved and grown closer as a team all season.  Every person on the team is truly running for the team.  I competed at state both my freshman and sophomore year, so I had that experience to share with the other girls, most of whom are underclassmen.  It's been very rewarding to run well and to encourage the girls with their running, and to grow closer spiritually. 

We absolutely have the best coaches in the state.  Coach Hansen really knows what he is doing, he is very laid back, and at the same time he is super driven and dedicated – and he has a million really terrible jokes.  I love running for him.

6) You’ve improved tremendously from last fall; it seems like part of that may have come with your 3200 times last spring, and then more this fall of course.  Can you talk about your off-season training last winter and this past summer, and what you feel are the biggest factors in your improvement?

Well, I've been healthy now for two full years, and that has made a big difference with my training.  Last cross-country season is when I first felt like I was running well, but I kept coming in second because I didn't have a very good kick.  Then at the end of last cross country season I fell at state and came in 18th, our team didn't qualify for NXN and they didn't allow individual qualifiers, either.  So I was very motivated to run better this year. 

Last summer I added some miles and really focused on my track workouts to try to get faster.  I'm still not the first one out at the beginning of a race, but I've improved since last year.

7) I’ve heard some others in your family run, too.  Can you tell about their influence on your getting involved in the sport?  Had you been involved in other sports, too?

Everyone in my family trains regularly.  My parents are both former college athletes.  My mom coaches masters’ swimming, and spends a lot of time in the pool, and my dad has run with me and my two sisters since we were in the jogging stroller.  Now my older sister is a sophomore in college and a distance runner at Baylor, and my younger sister is a freshman in high school and a varsity runner at College Park High School (our teams compete against each other in the same district).  I swam and competed in triathlons with my sisters for 5 or 6 years before focusing on my running.  I believe that seeing my family members' enjoyment of training fueled my love of running.

8) Finally, can you tell us about your academic interests and what you like to do when your not studying or training?

My favorite subjects are English (I like to read and I enjoy creative writing), and biology – I'm interested in Marine Biology and ever since I went to Sea World, I've wanted to be a Dolphin trainer!  When I'm not running or studying, I love hanging out with my friends, staying involved with my youth group at church, playing with my two black labs, or relaxing at the pool

Photos of Andrews from TX State 08 (by Bert Richardson) and Woodbridge 08 (by Bill Leung)

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