Second-year Ryan Collins led the Virginia men’s cross country team to a sixth-place finish at the Pre-NCAA meet on Oct. 18 as the first Cavalier across the line. Collins followed up a second-place finish at the George Mason Invitational, where he finished six-seconds behind teammate Emil Heineking to help the squad to it’s second-consecutive team victory, with a 23rd-place finish against the nation’s best competition. This weekend, Collins and the Cavaliers will head to Chapel Hill, N.C., to defend their ACC Championship. Races are set to begin at 10 a.m. on the Ranson-Hamrick Cross Country Course at Finley Golf Course.
Question: What were your goals going into the Pre-NCAA meet? Are you satisfied with the outcome of the race?
Collins: My main goal going into Pre-Nationals was to get a good feel for the course and to put in a solid race effort. It was important for me to see the course because that’s where the national meet will be at the end of the season. I was satisfied with the outcome because I ran faster than I expected to and this gives me a lot of confidence going into ACCs and NCAAs.Question: The men are the top-ranked team in the region right now and are the defending ACC Champions. What will be the focus heading into the conference championship this weekend?
Collins: Heading into the conference championships, we want to keep our training up and run with confidence, not only in ourselves but in our teammates. We know that we have the potential to do some big things so we are going into ACCs and regionals looking to come out on top.Question: There hasn't been a consistent leader among the men's squad this season, with two different individual meet champions and then yourself being the top finisher at Pre-NCAAs. Knowing the behind the scenes of your team, does that surprise you at all?
Collins: Having a different first man in the first three races does not come as a surprise to me at all. We have many capable guys who could step into this spot on any given day. This shows the depth that we have on our team and encourages everyone to work harder.Question: The men seem to run in a big pack together. How does the constant intra-squad competition help you train?
Collins: We are able to train and workout as a group, which helps everyone improve and then working out in a group translates to racing well together. We are constantly looking to find each other in the middle of races to work together and feed off of that energy. Question: What will happen to your training over the next few weeks in order to be in peak conditions for when regionals and nationals roll around?
Collins: For the next few weeks we will keep our mileage up and do a few long tough workouts in order to get stronger. When we get closer to Nationals we will begin to back off our mileage and do some quicker workouts to make sure that we are sharp and ready to roll.Question: How many shoes do you typically go through in a season or how many have you already gone through? Do you have a favorite pair?
Collins: I am about to start on my third pair of shoes for the season and may get into another pair by the end. They get worn out after some good mileage so it is important to replace them in order to prevent injury. I have been training in the Nike Zoom Elites for the past year and they seem to be working out well. I like to race in spikes that are supportive but light in weight.