20 Questions With Sean Olson

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Throughout the 2011 season we will be bringing you either a set of 20 questions from a Gopher cross country squad member or an article focusing on a student-athlete from this years team. In our first crack at 2011 gophersports.com talked with Menomonie, Wis. senior Sean Olson.

Gophersports.com: Why did you first decide to become a runner? 
Sean Olson: The first time I realized I wanted to be a runner was in elementary school. In 4th grade we had to run the mile for the first time. I was the best kid in my class, it was my first ever race victory! I have loved it ever since.

GS:What was the biggest adjustment you had to make when moving from high school cross country to running in college?
SO: In high school, my main motivation was to win races. I never really entered a race that I couldn't win. In college, the level of competition obviously changes. I have had to change my mindset entering into a race since I have entered college. It is about working with teammates and trying to PR in order to help the team. I also have less control over races, in high school I could dictate the pace and manipulate the race. In college, it is much harder to take control of larger, more competitive races.

GS: What is the most difficult course you've ever run?
SO: Hands down, the University of Michigan course.

GS: What is the most unusual or creative workout you've ever run at practice?

SO: During some recovery runs, we will leap-frog up a hill as a cross training activity. That is kind of strange I guess.

GS: What team or individual performance are you most proud of? 

SO: For the team, it has to be qualifying for nationals in 2010 at the Regional Meet in Peoria, IL. We were a bubble team and we came in and got the job done. It wasn't the best team we have had and we were missing Hassan due to injury and we came together with a lot of young talent and made it happen.

GS: Where is your favorite place to run?
SO: River Road, it never gets old.

GS: What is your favorite Minnesota tradition?
SO: Singing the rouser at camp. "M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A!!!!!"

GS: What is the coolest part of being a member of the Minnesota cross country team?
SO: Putting on the jersey and actually knowing you're representing the University of Minnesota. You get to compete at the highest level of collegiate athletics. It's pretty special.

GS: What is the hardest part of being on the Minnesota cross country team?
SO: Probably staying positive even when times get hard. Winters can be cold, races can go poorly, and injuries happen. Things can seem bad but attitude can be everything in this sport.

GS: What advice would you give a new runner?
SO: Believe in the program, listen, work hard, and come with a positive attitude and you will get better in this program.

GS: What have you learned from cross country that has helped you in other aspects of your life?
SO: Resilience, whether it is injuries or bad performances or something else, to succeed at running you have to be able to push through, get back up after getting knocked down, and persevere. That carries over into the real world, it is always helpful to be able to push through hard times.

GS: Do you have a favorite sports movie?
SO: Remember the Titans

GS: Where is your favorite place to eat on campus?

SO: Mesa Pizza

GS: What are you listening to on your iPod right now?
SO: Mat Kearney just came out with a new CD that I really like but I never get tired of REO Speedwagon and Bruce Springsteen.

GS: Do you have any race-day superstitions?
SO: Not really anything crazy, I always do a shakeout run, eat a small breakfast, and stay focused.

GS: What are your goals for this season?

SO: I want to be part of a team that qualifies and places well at nationals. I also want to continue the great chemistry and cohesion that the team has exhibited in the past. Without a doubt, Minnesota cross country runners are some of the best and goofiest guys I have ever met. Maybe, it's cliché but the guys on the team are like family. It is important to me that we maintain that friendship and atmosphere.

GS: What is your favorite sport outside of cross-country or track and field?

SO: Basketball, especially college basketball.

GS: What motivates you to run and compete?

SO: Seeing how the work pays off. There is no better feeling than when you get to the end of a race and you still have a great kick left in your legs and you run a great time. You don't get that feeling without getting out the door and working hard.

GS: Outside of running, what do you enjoy to do?
SO: Watch movies.

GS: If you had the choice to travel either forward or backward in time, which would you choose? Why?
SO: I will say forward, because the Vikings haven't won a Super Bowl in the past but I know they have a lot of them coming in the future and I can't wait to see it! 

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