Sixth-year Ryan Foster became the first-ever Cavalier male to win an ACC cross country individual title, as he led the Virginia men’s team to a second-consecutive ACC Championship Saturday morning. The runner-up in the 2005 championships and third finisher in 2007, Foster has also won the 2007 ACC Champion in the 10K on the track. This weekend, Virginia hosts its final home meet of the season at Panorama Farms. Cavalier Open races are scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 7.
Question: You finished second and third in past two ACC championships, but you've made history now and became the first Cavalier male to win an ACC Championship. How incredible of an accomplishment is that?
Foster: I think it was inevitable that Virginia was going to have an individual champion very soon. On a different day, a different course, any small change in circumstance and it could have been a number of men on the team: Ryan Collins, Andy Biladeau, Emil Heineking. That is the true essence of a championship team. It's incredible that it could have been any of us.Question: What was it like to have your team right there behind you, to win another ACC Title on top of earning individual honors?
Foster: I spent most of the race right in the front so I couldn't keep track of where my teammates were. A few of us made contact during the race and that is great for your confidence. But really you don't know how it's going in all the chaos. In those moments you believe in one fact: that each of us is doing exactly what we need to do. When it was all said and done, that's what happened. Each man did his job and that's momentum. It's like being at the crest of a big wave.Question: At the beginning of the year, there was some uncertainty as to whether you'd be granted a sixth year of eligibility. How were you able to overcome that obstacle and continue your training in order to come back and be the best in the ACC? Did you have any doubt that you'd be out there competing?
Foster: There was a lot of doubt as to whether I would be returning during the summer. I didn't let that stop me from preparing. God was going to put me right where I needed to be and it didn't matter to what capacity that meant. You have to let go of always being in control and focus on what you can do. When we received the news that I would be able to run, we just moved forward with business as usual. I am fortunate to have a web of strong supporters. This is a victory we all share in. If there is glory in this, it belongs to God.Question: You've been a contributing factor in each of Virginia's last three ACC cross country team titles. How does this one compare to the others?
Foster: In 2005, we really had to fight for the title. It was something we thought we could do, but there was a lot of uncertainty as to how it would look and feel. The 2007 title was very similar except that we had done it before and had a better plan of action. But in both, we had to be very scrappy. We were chasing the title. This year we had more confidence. We didn't have to go out and run a perfect race. We just had to execute and the race came to us.Question: You're one of the few who has experienced winning an ACC title on the track and in cross country. How would you compare the two and is one more rewarding than the other?
Foster: My ACC title race on the track was a lot like this year's cross country race. It was sit and kick. You have to be patient, absorbing every surge and conflict, and wait for the right moment to go. When it's time to go, you just know it. You go. There isn't any mystery to the strategy. Everyone in the lead pack knows exactly what's happening. You paint a big target on your back and kind of say, "Hey if you want win this thing, you have to come get me." In both races I went and no one could answer. But, I do think that a cross country title for me is a little more special than a track title because you don't dilute the field. On the track, you can pick the 10k, the 5k, steeple or mile, and each team sends the best they can in that event. In cross, the event is populated by the very best across every event that a school can send.Question: Going into a race being the favorite and coming out victorious, how does that help prepare the team for the upcoming championships? What are you looking forward to in this final stretch of races?
Foster: We defended our title and that's new territory. It's another step in the right direction for the program. It means that we spent less energy at this point in the season than in years past. We can put more of our focus on the bigger goals like a national title. We aren't there quite yet. The postseason race expectation is to win the region - something Virginia has never done - and place top 10 at NCAAs. That is our potential here and now. But very soon the national title will be our goal. That is what we are investing in now.