In a time of sub-4 milers and record setting distance stars, some runners tend to be slightly overlooked. Whose fault is this? No one really, it's just that the American junior distance scene is unbelievably stacked, and it is hard to give due credit to everyone deserving. It seems as though a 4:15 mile (in the wake of Webb's 3:59.86), or 9:10 deuce just ain't what it used to be. Should it be this way? Who is to say, but if you ask me times such as those aren't anything to shake a stick at. And in this time of Alan Webb and Dathan Ritzenhein, one of these "silent warriors," if you will, is Roy, Utah's Seth Pilkington.
What is more exhilarating then a .01 margin of victory? Probably nothing, and that is what made last year's Utah State outdoor track meet as memorable as it is. Not only did Pilkington outkick Josh Rohatinsky (third place Foot Locker Cross Country Championships finisher, currently attending Brigham Young), but he did it 9:11.77 to 9:11.78. Ever since then, things have only been looking up.
Clearly one of the most presigious high school XC races of the year is the Great American Cross Country Festival. This year's field included such talents as Webb, the Jeffersons, Chandler Goodwin, Rod Koborsi, and David Vidal of Flathead, MT. Pilkington pulled of a solid second place finish, only 12 seconds off of South Lakes, VA "Webbmaster" himself. Seth then ran to a win at the Utah state meet, and earned himself a berth at FLCC by finishing seventh at the Western Regional. His time of 15:38 across the 2.98 treacherous Mt. SAC course was enough to keep him one second ahead of eighth place finisher Brett Gotcher.
"The trip to Foot Locker Nationals this year was something that I'll never forget," Pilkington says. "It was a lot of fun to get to know, and race against some of the best distance runners in the country." Pilkington finished an impressive sixth, two seconds off fifth place West Regional finisher Erik Heinonen, and 4 seconds ahead of Chandler Goodwin. Seth was the 3rd finisher for the West region, and helped lead them to the team title.
"I was pretty happy with my finish. I can't really complain about coming in sixth. I went out fairly conservatively in the first mile, and I was able to pick off a lot of guys in the last half of the race. I think it is important to know your competitors, so you can know how you need to race them to beat them." Indeed, a sixth place finish is an accomplishment to boast. Especially when running against such an elite field. As Pilkington points out, "It is obviously the most elite field that I have ever raced against."
So far this outdoor season things - or should I say times - are looking good for Seth. "I opened it up with a 4:11 1600 at altitude." Not only this, but it was more or less done with very little competition - the next finisher didn't cross the line until 4:25. Seth says he is planning to run a fast mile at Arcadia (April, 14), and then focus on running a fast 2-mile come the end of the season.
Naturally, times like these don't come without major commitment and training dedication. "I do a lot of strength training," explains Seth. "Normally I run 70-80 miles a week. I usually do two interval workouts a week, and they are usually strength oriented. Saturdays I usually do a long run of 15 miles, and I take Sundays off." As far as eating habits, Pilkington tries to "eat pretty healthy, but I'm not real strict with my diet."
This fall Seth will be joining ex-Rockford standout, and good friend of Dathan Ritzenhein, Jason Hartmann at the University of Oregon. Although the team did not go to Nationals this year, it is a well known, and well respected program. "I have a lot of confidence in Coach Smith, and I feel like he is the right coach for me. I also like the guys on the team. They are young, and I think they have a lot of potential."
It seems the only thing left for the Roy, UT senior to do now is finish off this track season and move on to bigger and better things. Who knows, perhaps he will play a major role in helping American distance running get back on its toes once and for all. His take on the matter: "We still have a lot of hard work to do, but I hope that it's a sign of what will happen in the future, and I am excited to be a part of it."
Interview granted by SETH PILKINGTON exclusively for fastPREPS.com: April 4, 2001