Oct. 8, 2010
Stanford men's cross country remains the No. 1 team in the nation after the early meets this season. The Cardinal were impressive in its debut at the Stanford Invitational with a trio of front runners, Chris Derrick, Elliott Heath and Jacob Riley.
While Derrick is among the favorites to win the NCAA individual title and Heath is also an established star, Riley has broken through to give Stanford a 'Big-3', all who are capable of running up front at the NCAA meet.
The redshirt junior was among Stanford's top cross country runners last season, placing 54th at the NCAA Championships. However, Riley really established himself on the national scene during the track season when he placed third at the NCAA Outdoor 10,000 meters and doubled back two days later to also earn All-America status in the 5,000.
This season the Bellingham, Wash., native will be a key member of the cross-country team that is looking to win its first NCAA title since 2003. Riley took a few moments to talk with gostanford.com, including some goals for the season and his favorite places to run.
GoStanford.com: Why do you love to run?
Riley: Running is about as simple a sport as you can find, in the end it comes down to how hard you can push yourself and how far are you willing to go, and there's something about that sort of raw test that I find really appealing.
GoStanford.com: What is your favorite place to run?
Riley: Of runs I do on a regular basis, the trails in Arastradero preserve are awesome to run on. I usually do my Monday runs there and always enjoy it. My favorite trail ever though, is this park we went to in Santa Cruz (Nisene Marks), it had tons of great dirt trails, all under redwoods, it was amazing.
GoStanford.com: Talk a little bit about your summer training. Where were you for most of your training? What types of runs did you do? What are your main goals with summer training?
Riley: I was back in Bellingham for the summer working, so I spent the whole time on my trails from high school just trying to get up to good mileage. Honestly though, summer training really isn't that different from what we do during the school year, except the intensity is a little lower and the emphasis is more on consistency and mileage than really getting after it. That being said my main goal was to give myself a big solid base so that I would be in a position to get the most out the workouts when the season started.
GoStanford.com: You had a great track season, how does that increase your confidence for XC this year?
Riley: It's one thing to know you're fit in practice, but having the proof that I've been doing something right and that I can compete on the national stage, it's really helped my confidence and mental outlook going into the season.
GoStanford.com: What are your team and individual goals for this XC season?
Riley: Win the team title at NCAA's. I've wanted that since I came in as a freshmen and we have the tools to make it happen, so that's the entire focus. In order to do that I need to be involved at the front, scoring in the top ten or so, but honestly, it's all about the team title.
GoStanford.com: Why did you choose Stanford?
Riley: How could I not? There's not other place in the country with the combination of athletics and academics that Stanford has. Add that to great weather, a beautiful campus, and being close to one of the coolest cities in the world, it wasn't a hard decision to make.
GoStanford.com: What is your major and what are your plans after school?
Riley: I'm a biomechanical engineering major and eventually I'd like to find a job that can keep me involved with running somehow, like maybe shoe design, or prosthetics for athletes.