Redshirt freshman Ryan Collins competed in his first ACC Indoor Track and Field Championship last weekend and became the first-ever Cavalier to win the 5000m title, turning in the third fastest time (14:17.76) in the program’s history.
The Mansfield, Pa., native turned around to race the 3000m the next day, and finished third in 8:13.00 to earn his second all-conference honor of the championship.
Collins and the Cavaliers will split up this weekend to compete in either the Virginia Tech Last Chance or the Alex Wilson Invitational (at Notre Dame) in attempts to qualify for the NCAA Indoor Championships held March 13-14 in College Station, Texas.
Question: In your first ACC Indoor Championship, you won the 5000m title becoming the first Cavalier to ever do so indoors. What does that accomplishment mean to you?
Collins: I had no idea that I was the first indoor 5k winner from UVa until after the race and it came as a surprise to me. There have been many good runners to come through here so to be the first is awesome. I feel like Virginia will be accomplishing many firsts in the years to come.Question: What was going through your mind during the race? What were your expectations and at what point did you realize you were going to win it?
Collins: During the race I was just trying to stay relaxed and think positive thoughts about how I was feeling. This is what my coach told me to do. Not much was going through my mind I was just trying to stay focused and ready to run fast towards the end. Before the race I felt like I was going to be a major contender to win but I knew that it would be a coin flip because of all the other good runners in the ACC. I took off with 400 meters to go and realized I was going to win with about 50 meters left in the race.Question: You turned around the next day and earned all-conference honors in the 3000m. You were battling two runners from NC State in the final stretch of the race what was that competition like?
Collins: For the majority of the 3k, the NC State runners were trying to stay as relaxed as I was so I knew that the final 400 meters was going to be fast and they were going to be tough to beat. I had thought I broke them but they fought back and got me in the final 50 meters.Question: How do you mentally and physically prepare for races of such length - specifically indoors, where the event requires so many laps around the track?
Collins: I tried to prepare myself for the many laps I ran by focusing on one race at a time and by taking care of my body and legs after the 5k.Question: What are the differences between the 3000m and 5000m races? Do you prefer one over the other?
Collins: There is not much difference between the two races, however, the 3k is generally run at a faster pace but both are mentally and physically challenging. I tend to like the 5k more because it takes a bit more endurance.Question: What are you looking forward to the rest of the season?
Collins: I am looking forward to running another 5k, attempting to qualify for NCAAs and going for the school record.Question: With the outdoor season quickly approaching, are you looking forward to that?
Collins: I am looking forward to outdoors because that means the weather will be getting warmer. It is easier to train for outdoors and usually people run a lot faster. Indoors is fun but it will be a nice change to get on the 400-meter outdoor track instead of the indoor 200 meters.