Sean Keveren is a redshirt freshman on Virginia's cross country team that won the Lou Onesty Invitational at Panorama Farms last weekend. In his first race wearing a Virginia uniform, Keveren was the second Cavalier to finish, and fourth overall, clocking in at 25:13.4. This past August, the Brentwood, Tenn., native competed on the track in the 5k at the Pan American Junior Championships in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, finishing second with a personal-best time of 14:14.46.
Virginia's cross country program will take this weekend off before heading to Fairfax, Va., on Saturday, Oct. 3 to compete in the George Mason Invitational.
Question: The men's squad opened the season with another Lou Onesty Invitational title. Is the team satisfied with the overall results?
Keveren: Yes, we are pleased, although we weren't expecting too much this weekend. Our main goal was simply to introduce some of the less experienced guys, myself included, to the 8k and just get a feel for what college cross country is all about. In that sense, it was a successful meet. Of course, winning as a team and having Emil (Heineking) dominate up front were nice additions to a successful weekend.
Question: You redshirted last season, with this being your first cross country race in a Cavalier uniform. How does it feel to be back competing again?
Keveren: To be honest, I feel more of a sense of relief. After not competing for a full year, I started to forget what it was like to train hard, eat right, and feel the somewhat euphoric pain of running a race. Getting to wear the Cavalier uniform is truly a privilege and I feel like I can appreciate it more after sitting out a year.
Question: You finished last year on the track racing at the Pan American Junior Championships in Trinidad and Tobago and won a silver medal. What was that experience like?
Keveren: It was great on so many levels. I had never been out of the country before heading to Trinidad, so I was more excited just for the opportunity to see a different life style. Also, getting all of the USA gear was like Christmas, except better. I came home one night and saw a huge box sitting on my front door step and my eyes just lit up. I took it inside and literally tore open the box and jumped around like a little kid. Getting to represent our country is most definitely the highest honor as a runner, and I hope I can continue to do so in the future. As far as the race, I ran as hard as I could and notched a new personal-best. What's not to like about that?
Question: How did you choose to run the 5k?
Keveren: I never really chose to run the 5k, it was more like the 5k chose me. I didn't start training seriously until April, so I didn't really have time to do the speed work necessary for the 1500m. I could have run the 10k, but the field at the USA Championships in the 5k was far more competitive than the 10k, so the 5k was my best option all around.
Question: As a distance runner, do you have a preference between running cross country or track?
Keveren: While cross country has its perks, I without a doubt prefer track. I'm a mathematically inclined guy, so I like the symmetry and the consistency that a track race presents. You essentially find your pace (say 68 seconds per lap for a 5k), and you lock in and run it. If you are off pace, you know it immediately and can adjust. While I enjoy racing my opponents, I love the additional challenge that the clock provides during a track race. Furthermore, I feel that I am a more efficient runner on the track and have historically been better at it.
Question: What are the differences between the two seasons?
Keveren: I'd say the main difference is that cross country carries more of a team aspect. While track is certainly a team sport as well, I feel like track is better described as a collection of individuals doing their individual events, earning points for the same team. Conversely, cross country is seven guys going through the same course and the same pain, striving for the goal of winning meets as a team. In track, the focus is more on running fast times.
Question: The team has a couple of weeks to prepare for its next meet, the George Mason Invitational. How will your training change to prepare for that meet?
Keveren: I would anticipate that our training would just continue to intensify slowly over the next couple of weeks. Coach Vigilante is always preaching patience, so we have been very conservative thus far. Each week we just turn it up a notch, knowing that the most important thing is how fast we run on November 23rd at the NCAA Championships. With that in mind, we probably will go into the George Mason Invitational with a similar mindset as this past weekend - getting used to the 8k and learning to run as a team.