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Klein talks cross-country and more

Senior Matt Klein (Portland, Ore.) is a prominent student athlete on campus. When he is not busy running for the cross-country team, he is working hard on his exercise science major and applying to physical therapy schools. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Klein and ask him about the race this past weekend, how the team is doing this year and a little about his personal experiences being the top runner at Puget Sound.
Ben Kastenbaum: So tell me about the race this past weekend.
Matt Klein: As a team we did incredibly well. The freshmen, sophomores and upper classmen have created the strongest team we’ve had in a decade. We almost beat Willamette this year. We came in second in conference behind them, and sixth overall in the meet. The men’s team is really coming together. Based on this race and previously, we have a major shot to win conference as a team.
BK: The race was in Salem, Ore. How was this course compared with others?
MK: Many other cross-country courses are continual loops. Willamette is nice because it is not a set loop course. There are new directions you’re going and a huge variety of terrain. There is a good amount of asphalt, as well as bark dust, gravel and grass. Even though there are a lot of fast people there from Division I, II and III, you have to be aware of changes such as footing. That is what cross-country is, running across different terrain.
BK: How did you feel you performed?
MK: I did well getting out and establishing a tempo, and I did a really good job competing and getting up to the front. I still need to work on not getting separated from people. I was running in “no man’s land” [in between two groups]. If I would have stayed with one of those groups, I would have finished much faster. It is easier to run as a group than running by yourself because you have someone to pace off of. It may hurt, but it pushes you and gets you in a better position.
BK: What do you feel you can improve on after this race?
MK: I still need to get some of my stuff going, I have the potential. Based on my heavy mileage, I tend to do better at the end of the season when I peak. One problem is learning how to compete again and working on running technique. Overall it was a good meet. The whole team has a great fire right now.
BK: As a senior and the no. 1 runner, do you feel you have fulfilled a leadership role on this team?
MK: I try to lead by example. I am very passionate about this sport and running. It is hard sometimes not to be overbearing because I love this sport so much. I try to be a leader by answering questions, being supportive of the team, trying to be a teammate and teacher, but at the same time not interfere with our coach. I want our freshmen and sophomores to develop because they have an incredible amount of potential. They are the bulk of our team.
BK: What have you learned since freshman year?
MK: I have learned how to train properly. I came in here with no high school experience. I learned to set up a program and follow it through— what to do, what not to do. I love running, but you have to emphasize the quality over intense quantity. Consistency is about all of the little things: stretching, doing the drills, proper core workouts, good nutrition and sleep. It is not just one; it is about all of them and doing them consistently.
BK: As a runner, have you always envisioned yourself being where you are today?
MK: I haven’t seen it as much as I’ve worked toward it. Doing crazy things like running 100 plus miles a week. Working hard and making a lot of sacrifices. Seeing myself in positions is still something I need to work on; the visualization of knowing that I can win and be on the top. I hope to be up there, definitely.
BK: What are your goals for this year?
MK: To win conference and become an All-American at nationals.
BK: What are your lifetime running goals?
MK: To, at the minimum, run under 14 minutes for the 5k and at some point go back to ultra-marathons [anything longer than a marathon]. What I really want to do is become good enough to run professionally. Just to show everybody, because I started so late and had to try and improve so quickly.
BK: You are one second away from being on the top 25 for the Puget Sound men’s 8k race. Do you think you’ll get there?
MK: I know I have the potential of cracking the top 25 and getting up there in the school ranks. There just have to be the right conditions, but I care more about getting first place than having a fast time. It is a testament that it is not about time, but about competing every race because conditions change. Overall, I felt I did well last week and I am still improving.
Results of Saturday’s race at Chuck Bowles had Klein finishing 19th overall with a time of 25:41.18. Freshman David Santillan (Milwaukie, Ore.) and freshman Gabriel Michaels (Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.) were the next two Loggers to finish, as both ran personal bests.
The men finished sixth overall with 212 points, and were two points behind Willamette as the top Division III team in the meet.
Senior Carrie Keith (Erie, Colo.) led the Logger women at the same meet in a 6k race. Keith finished 91st overall with a time of 19:41.76. Sophomore Laura Leach (Alamo, Calif.) was the second Logger finisher running a 19:59.61, finishing 111th.
The next meet is the Pioneer Invitational in Estacada, Ore. on Oct. 13.