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Q&A with Tennessee golden girl Kathy Kroeger

FL South favorite could challenge meet record, but her primary goal is just to return to San Diego

Friday, November 24th Charlotte, NC

NTN Southeast Region Editor, Brandon Miles

CHARLOTTE NC 11/24/06--Southeast Region editor Brandon Miles of MileStat.com was able to land a pre-meet interview with sophomore Kathy Kroeger of Independence High School (TN) heading into Saturday's Footlocker South Regional to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina. After qualifying for Footlocker Nationals in 2005 and finishing 16th overall, Kroeger has returned this fall as one of the most improved runners out of all of the returning finalists from Balboa Park after winning Great American by 20 seconds and consistently running at a respectable distance of the winning boys' times in the state of Tennessee all season long. She is favored to win this weekend, but certainly will be challenged by several strong individuals at McAlpine Greenway Park including the South region's top finisher at San Diego last year in Virginia's Aurora Scott. Brandon Miles also briefly interviews Kroeger's head coach in Kristen Reams from Independence High School.

Brandon Miles (to Kroeger): When did you get started with running and why?

Kathy Kroeger: I started running cross country and track in 6th grade. I had played soccer since kindergarten and always liked the mile runs in elementary school fitness tests, so cross country seemed like it would be fun.

Miles: How valuable of experience was Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego last December for you?

Kroeger: It was a great experience. I got to meet many elite runners and race against the best in the country, as a freshman. Placing 16th, when the top 15 were All-American, has been a huge motivation factor for me.

What were your expectations coming into this season? Did the win at Great American surprise you and make you re-evaluate your season goals?

Kroeger: I wanted to stay healthy and improve on my times from last year. I was surprised to win Great American, but my goal is still to improve from last year.

Miles: You ran 17:16 last year at Foot Locker South to qualify for Foot Locker Nationals. The course record is 16:45 by Erin Keogh. You have been running over 30 seconds faster from three mile courses in 2005 to 5K courses in 2006 in Tennessee. Would you like to go after the record or just run for the win and qualify?

Kroeger: My primary goal is to qualify and race again in San Diego. But no matter what place I am in, I run my hardest every race.

Miles: At many meets this season, your final time has not been far behind the top boys time. Have you ever wished you could jump into the boys race and see what you can do?

Kroeger: Yes, sometimes I have wanted to race with them, just to have some really strong competition and the chance to run in a pack.

Miles: What do you feel is the biggest difference in your running from last year?

Kroeger: I am doing a lot of longer runs this season and my overall training is more structured and focused.

Miles: Do you feel the universal change in Tennessee in modifying their traditional three mile courses to 5K this fall makes you better prepared to race 5K's at Foot Locker South and Foot Locker Nationals?

Kroeger: Yes, it makes it easier to compare times, but the distances are so close that it doesn't really make a difference during the race.

Miles: Since the win at Great American, you've received more national attention than probably you've been accustomed to such as from the likes of DyeStat.com and Sports Illustrated. How you have handled the attention? Do you enjoy it or do you prefer to block it out and just do things as usual?

Kroeger: I do not enjoy it, and I do my best to block it out and focus on training and racing.

Miles (to Coach Reames): As Kathy's coach, please tell us what have been the most noticeable improvements made in her running from last year's banner freshmen year to this fall as a sophomore in cross country?

Coach Reames: Her splits have definitely improved. Her stride seems much longer and she has a stronger finish.

Miles: What race performance this fall by Kathy has impressed you the most and why?

Reames: I would have to say the state meet on November 4th. She knew she was going into it with very little competition and yet she set a new course, personal and state record with her own determination.

Miles: How much of a valuable learning experience was training Kathy for post-season last year with FL South and FL Nationals and will the training be any different for this year? 

Reames: We now both know what the race will be like and what type of competition will be there so we have been able to train better for that. She has also dropped out of travel soccer to focus more on this race.

Miles: What areas do you think Kathy can get better in as a runner?

Reames: She has improved on her strong finish, but I would like to see that area get stronger. Her splits are very strong.

Miles: Plenty of attention since Great American has been looked at how Kathy's times stack up in comparison to the boys' race of the day. Without having faced any challengers since Great American, does she use the times in the boys' race as motivation to gun for?

Reames: She would love to race in the boys' race, but is not able to. I know that she sets personal split times and sticks with those. She has improved in her last three races without competition, so I am confident that with competition she will rise to the occasion.