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Interval Session #79 - Joe & Jim Rosa

By Dave Devine - November 6, 2008

West Windsor-Plainsboro North NJ sophomore twins Joe and Jim Rosa first gained regional attention as freshman last year, putting up precocious times in cross country and track.  By the time they’d finished that ninth grade campaign, they were attracting national interest with clockings of 9:11 (Jim) and 9:15 (Joe) for the 3200 at the New Jersey Meet of Champions

Jim might have had the edge on the oval last spring, but after suffering several injuries at the start of his sophomore cross country season, he’s had to watch as Joe soared ahead with an astonishing autumn that includes course records at Belmont Plateau in Philadelphia (15:34) and the Mercer County Champs (15:13) in New Jersey, as well as sophomore class records at Shore Coaches (Holmdel Park NJ 15:38) and the vaunted Manhattan Invitational.  His 12:20 at Manhattan was second fastest of the day, trailing only Solomon Haile’s 12:06.7 CR, and smashed the sophomore course record of 12:29.9 set in 1983 by John Trautman of Monroe-Woodbury NY.  It was the fourth fastest time ever run by a New Jersey runner at Van Cortlandt.  With Jim now healthy and rounding back into shape, this formidable pair looks to lead their US#19 team deep into the post-season.

DyeStat Senior editor Dave Devine--who knows a thing or two about being a redhead twin--catches up with the Brothers Rosa for some late season redhead repeats.
1) You guys have had some great success in your short careers.  What's been your favorite meet or best race so far this season?

Joe (left):  I’d say my best race was at Belmont Plateau [Philadelphia], because that was really my breakout race and that set the bar for what I knew I could do for the rest of the season, when I got to meets like Shore Coaches and Manhattan.  That really helped me become confident for the rest of the races.

Jim:  I’ve had a couple of injuries—on my ankle, a stress reaction on my toe, and right before school started, I hurt my hip area.  So most of my races, I haven’t been very happy with them, but I’d say my best so far was probably the Mercer County meet, because I was within 30 seconds of Joe, which was the closest I’ve been all season.  And that week I had my best workouts and felt a lot better than usual.

2) For Joe, has it been hard for you to watch Jim sidelined for the early part of this season?  For Jim, has it been hard watching Joe have this successful run, setting course records, knowing you could be right out there with him if you had a healthy stretch of training?

Joe: It’s cool that Jim’s coming back, and now that he’s getting back in shape it’s going to be awesome, because hopefully we’ll have two guys pushing with the leaders, and then we have a great pack at 3-4-5, so we could be a really strong team.  Maybe this season he won’t be able to get all the way back to running next to me, but he’ll certainly be capable of running fast times.

Jim: Yeah, it’s hard, but I’m really happy for him.  I’m just trying to look on the bright side that when I get healthy I’ll hopefully be back up there with him, and hopefully share in the success he’s having.

3) What’s the training like with the two of you?  Is it really competitive? Do you do your best workouts when you run with each other?  Are you able to keep a lid on the competitiveness for the easy runs?

Joe: It’s true, we’re always pushing runs and always competing with each other.  It’s not like we have to beat the other one, but we’re pretty competitive and always want to beat the other one.  Our recovery runs get faster, but I think it helps a lot.

Jim: We definitely have our best workouts when we’re running with each other, but sometimes they get a little out of control.  Especially long runs…they get pretty bad sometimes.  But it’s only going to help us because we’re working a little bit harder, and I’m happy he’s there pushing the pace because it makes me tougher as a runner.

4) Obviously, you both have a passion and talent for running, but is there anything you enjoy that your twin doesn’t?  What are some of the clear differences between the two of you?

Joe: We’re really similar.  We have the same friends and usually do the same things, so we really don’t have too many differences.  Our personalities are kind of different—I’m more serious than Jim is, and he’s usually funnier.  But we both can be serious when we need to be.

Jim (right):  Pretty much all we like to do is play sports and run.  We like playing basketball and baseball and watching TV.  We have pretty much all the same interests.  I might do a little bit better in school than Joe, but we’re mostly the same in school too.  I’m usually the kind of guy who lightens the mood and loosens up the guys on the team before a big race, so they’re not worrying too much.  Joe’s the kind of guy who gets uptight, and I think it helps him out, having me there.  Then I have him to make sure I’m being as serious as I need to be.

5) What changes have you made this season to make the jump from the performances last year to what you’re capable of doing this year?  Have you done different workouts?  Put in a bigger summer?  Changed your mindset at all?

Joe: We’ve kind of stepped up our mileage a lot.  Last year [summer before entering high school] we competed in the Junior Olympics, so we didn’t really get to have a full summer under Coach Gould.  And I think a full summer under his training and workouts have really turned us into much better runners.

Jim: We’re running a lot more miles, and running those miles a little bit faster.  We have a whole group of guys with us, making sure none of us are taking it too easy on recovery days, but at the same time, keeping us under control.   We’re keeping it more consistent this year.  Coach Gould is awesome.  All we have to do is listen to what he says and we know good performances will come.

6) How did the two of you first get into the sport?  Were you involved in youth running at the grade school or middle school level?

Joe: We started track in sixth grade.  We were basketball and baseball players, but we ended up liking track more than basketball or baseball.  Then we started competing in cross country in eighth grade.  We did the Junior Olympics in the summer of our eighth grade year, but that’s the only time we ever did anything like that.

7) Do you share a room or each have your own room?  Bunk beds or single beds?

Joe: We each have our own room.

Jim:  We have our own rooms, and I’m really happy about that.  We used to have bunk beds, until we were eight or nine, but it was terrible.  I couldn’t wait to get my own room.

8) Watching last year's freshman class in New Jersey, there’s obviously some pretty good talent, with the two of you and fellow redhead Kevin Byrne.  What's up with the redhead power rising up in NJ?

Joe: Kevin’s a great runner, and we’ve talked to him before.  Guys like him and Mike O’Dowd...we were all trying to be the number one freshman in New Jersey last year.  Beyond that, I go on DyeStat to see what the other sophomores are running, like Craig Lutz (TX) and Zach Wills (OH).

Jim: We’re pretty much looking at results all the time.  It’s awesome, because it’s just going to push us to be more competitive, and will hopefully produce faster times all around.  If guys like Kevin, Zach and Craig are motivated to beat me, and I’m motivated to beat them, we’re all going to be running really fast times and putting up some awesome performances..  

Photos by John Nepolitan

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