DGN season outlook interviews

Saturday, August 20 2016

Season outlook interviews: Alec Danner, Andrew Marek, Jacob Ridderhoff

Especially with all seven runners returning from the 17th-place 2015 lineup that competed at state, what are the spirits of the team?
Andrew Marek: “The spirits are definitely high. We have a lot of really big goals and aspirations just because of how deep our team is this year. Last year, we had a really young team go to state, a lot of sophomores on our state team, so we’re really looking to place really high in the state meet. We’re really hopeful we can get the job done and we’re really confident of that.”

How is the team stronger than last year?
Jacob Ridderhoff: “We had a lot of young talent on our team last year and now that we really didn’t lose anyone from our top seven last year I feel like we’re going to be stronger. It’s just hitting it again with the same people. We’ve had another whole track season and this cross country to practice and prepare for it.”

How important was last year’s state meet experience, especially for such a young lineup?
Alec Danner: “I think it’s definitely going to play an integral part in our success this year because guys like Matt Moravec and other freshmen who played an important role are in our top seven. They’re going to have that experience. They’re going to know what to do. I think it was especially important in making it that year because it showed that even though we were one of the weaker squads (of the 25 team qualifiers) we were still capable of making it to state. With all of us returning, it’s just that much more confidence, knowing that we can make it and place really high this year, too.”

Andrew and Jacob, what was it like running at state cross country for the first time?
Andrew Marek: “It was definitely an awesome experience. When I first joined this my freshman year, I did not think I’d ever be able to run in any competition like that. I didn’t think I’d make it to state or anything, so just for me it means a lot because it shows what you can do if you put in the work. Just the experience in general was awesome. You go through the straightaway at Detweiller and everybody is making all of that noise and it’s just awesome.”
Jacob Ridderhoff: “It was just interesting because we could just run. We didn’t have to really worry about anything because we knew it was just an experience. We weren’t going down there trying to trophy (finish top three). We were just going for the time and it was great because it just got experience for us. The atmosphere was just much different than any race we’ve run at. It was great.”

So the team goals and expectations are definitely high this season?
Alec Danner: “Oh yeah, of course. The goals were not really set (last year). They were kind of obscure because we were just really down there. We had proved ourselves that we were a state-qualifying team and really it was just the goal was to run well, not really to place or anything. But this year, with everyone’s goals in mind and our capabilities that we’re aware of, we definitely want a (top-three) trophy and we definitely want to have our own individual goals. Even doing some research on what it actually takes, top-five average (times), to get top three usually, what teams, how many all-staters are on there, etcetera, and just drawing information from other teams, how many guys they are returning, doing a lot of the little things in research to make sure to ensure that we’re ready and prepared for the season, both mentally and physically.”

Because of expectations, is there more pressure this season?
Jacob Ridderhoff: “It is a lot more fun now that we can get a lot higher of a place, but I feel like a little bit more pressure just because I know our goals have been set a little higher. We kind of expect it ourselves to do what we want because we think we can do it.”

Alec, after taking 19th at state last year (14:43), what are your individual goals?
Alec Danner: “That was really special, even though I didn’t achieve the top 10 goal that I wanted, it was still really special to be up there on the podium. It definitely left me hungry for more, definitely a high individual placement, but also the team trophy is what I’m, we’re all really after this year. The individual (results), that’s really going to feed into the team aspect. My placing really high, top 5, top 3, is just going to all the more help us to getting that team trophy.”

What are keys to team success?
Andrew Marek: “I think it’s just we run as a pack and we help each other and do the little things. I think we have a really good team in that we have a whole bunch of guys who are right next to each other like me, Jacob, Birk(meier), Chudzik, we’re all right there. If we kind of do what (2015 champion) Sandburg did last year, all of the guys weren’t just out for themselves. They were for the team and they were all like a pack and that’s honestly what you need to do. I think it’s our team having just that team aspect, really working its way in there, is going to help us a lot.”