This interview features Sophie Chase, senior, Lake Braddock High School, Burke, Virginia. In 2011-12, Sophie was the Virginia State champion in cross country and 3200m, 2nd in Footlocker South Regionals, and 11th in Footlocker Nationals. She has personal bests of 1600m (4:49.96), 3000m (9:37.86), 2 mile (10:19.14), and 5000m (17:06.00).
1. When & how did you get started in cross country, or generally in your running career?
I started running cross-country for Lake Braddock in the fall of my freshman year but joined the team primarily to stay in shape for swimming. It became apparent to me though, as the cross-country season progressed and I started running fast, that running would become a larger part of my life. I still swim competitively for my Lake Braddock high school team and Mason Makos club team, but my true love is running.
2. Person/people most influential to your success in cross country, or generally in your running career?
Both of my parents have inspired me to be the very best that I can. My dad has been especially influential. As an active duty member of the Navy, he has sacrificed much for our country and for our family. His drive and determination has instilled in me the same level of persistence, energy and perseverance in my approach to running. I am blessed with extraordinary support from my family, coaches, school officials, friends and teammates and draw great strength from my strong faith and belief in God.
3. Your cross country coach(es)?
Our head coach Mike Mangan has always been a driving force behind our entire team’s success. His emphasis on the “team first” concept has helped me develop into a better runner and a leader and friend to my teammates. I also owe much of my success to Lake Braddock’s assistant coach, Steve Hoogland. He has been a powerful presence throughout my running career, pushing me through difficult workouts, helping me deal with disappointment and making me a stronger person in the process. Assistant coaches Jason Switzer and Jeff Custer and athletic director Mark Martino have also provided me with valuable advice and support.
4. Keys to your successful training program?
Quality over quantity has always been the way I describe my training program. While high mileage hasn’t defined my workouts, pushing myself on workout days, allowing myself recovery on easy days and being committed to daily cross training have all been keys to my success. Swimming, biking, weightlifting and core/ab exercises provide me the strength and aerobic conditioning that I need to remain injury free. Proper nutrition and getting plenty of sleep have also been very important.
5. Why you enjoy cross country?
Cross country offers both a physical and a mental challenge that I believe is unmatched by any other sport. I also enjoy it because of the great friendships I have made with my teammates and my competitors. I love being able to work towards team goals just as much as individual goals, and standing on the podium with my team is what makes cross-country so enjoyable and worth it in the end.
6. Your favorite cross-country meet(s)?
My favorite cross country meets are the AAA Virginia Regional and State meets and the Footlocker South and National meets. Historically the Lady Bruins have always factored in at the Regional and State meets, and these challenging races have always been very gratifying to win as an entire team. I enjoy the Footlocker South and National meets as well because they offer me incredible opportunities to perform my best and compete on a national level and form friendships with so many other amazing runners.
7. Cross country athlete(s) you most enjoy competing against?
There are so many incredible and strong girls that I have been blessed to have competed against and bonded with including: Grace Tinkey, Olivia Ortiz, Bridget Blake, Lily Williams, Shelby Davidson, and all the other Footlocker South girls. One girl that I have relished competing against for the past couple of years in Virginia is Megan Moye (Cosby High School). She is an incredibly tough competitor and a genuine friend and I will miss her next year when she goes on to compete for NC State. My teammate Hannah Christen has also been someone I have enjoyed training and competing with. She is a fighter on the course and I know she has big things in store for this coming season.
8. Your greatest cross country experience in your career so far?
That’s easy…competing as a Footlocker National Finalist in San Diego both my sophomore and junior years. It’s in a beautiful city, the course is great, but in the end, what made it such a memorable experience were the life long friendships I made with all the amazing and gifted runners that also qualified.
9. Goals for the 2012 cross country season?
I am extremely excited about my senior year. I am working hard toward repeating as the Virginia State AAA champion and finishing in the top ten again at Footlocker South. Additionally, I am committed to helping my team and teammates reach their goals. We won States as a team my freshman year, and I am determined to lead my team to another state championship as a senior.
10. Long-term goals in cross country, or generally in your running career?
Long term, I am really looking forward to competing in college at the D1 level and maturing both athletically and academically. I have never been afraid to dream big, especially with the Olympics going on this summer. I hope that one day with my competitive nature, positive attitude and unending dedication I can go after a national title in college and perhaps running after college.
For more information check out Sophie Chase's Athlete Profile.