Connor Sheryak, senior at St. Xavier is the defending Class AAA Cross Country Kentucky State Champion. He has helped lead St. Xavier to Class AAA Team Titles twice over the last three years. He also won the Class AAA 3200m State Title this past May reaffirming his spot as a favorite for the Class AAA title in November.
KY: 3 Goals for XC?
CS: Qualify for Nike Cross Nationals, Repeat as Individual and Team State Champions, Run under 15 minutes
KY: Coming into the 2011 XC, redemption was the word for St. X. Coming into 2012, potential is the word for St. X and you. How will you and your teammates handle the pressure of being the clear target in Kentucky and beyond that in the Southeast.
CS: We are going to do the best we can and try to keep in mind that we have no control over any team but our own.
KY: As a senior the college recruiting process will be a big part of your year? What are the top five schools you are looking at for next year? What factors are you looking at most when it comes to the colleges?
CS: I honestly couldn’t give you a top 5 right now, but I am looking for schools with a solid business program and am currently looking at local schools as well as colleges in the Midwest, Northeast, and along the Atlantic coast.
KY: Going into the 2012 Track Season, did you think you could go 4:20, 9:14, and 15:06? Which of those are you most proud of?
CS: I knew that I could run 4:20, but the 9:14 and 15:06 were faster than my goals for my Junior season. I’m probably most proud of the 15:06, since it was indoors at a championship meet and I placed 9th.
KY: Throughout track season there was kind of a running joke going with former St. X great Joe Buechler about which St. X squads were better 2012 or the early 80s. In all seriousness though, how does it feel to run for a school that has tremendous traditions and many former great runners?
CS: The early 80’s teams were great teams and I’m flattered that we can be compared to them. It feels really good to know what kind of history precedes us and it’s nice to have contact with some of our greats. After the 2011 State XC meet I was casually talking to teacher at St. X when he told me that he was the first cross country state champion we had ever had in 1959. I had no idea! This really brought into perspective for me the tradition that we have.
KY: Who was that teacher?
CS: Mr. Joe Kroh
KY: You are going on at least your 8th year of competitive running, how do you continue to motivate yourself on a day to day basis?
CS: When I started running in 5th grade, I remember seeing people in front of me and being mad that they were beating me. I wanted to be the best runner. Today it’s the same. As long as there’s someone better than me I’ll always have motivation.
KY: Besides upping your mileage what else has changed about your training since winning XC State?
CS: Nothing too drastic, but I’d say I’m listening to my body more and I’m more willing to take my recovery runs easier,
KY: You always seem to very calm and in control, looking back over the last three years has there been a race that you would say just badly for you? When and why?
CS: The 2010 State Track Meet 3200m my Freshman year may have been the worst race of my high school career. I finished 17th and ran more than 30 seconds slower than my PR (at the time). I remember that I was really nervous the whole week before the race. I saw online some people saying that having a bit of caffeine before a race would give you some kind of edge. So the day before the meet I bought some concentrated caffeine tablets. An hour before the race, I took two tablets. I didn’t know it at the time, but two tablets was the equivalent to four cups of coffee. When the time to race came, I felt dizzy and dehydrated. And thats how I felt throughout the race. It was an awful experience, but it taught me a really valuable lesson: to trust my training. The reason I took the caffeine was that I lacked confidence in my own ability. Since then I’ve always trusted that I’ll have my best day when it matters, and I think that’s given me a certain confidence that gives me an edge.
KY: Going into a race, do you like to have a racing plan? If so, why? This is probably more of a track question, as with XC I assume Coach Medley gives a plan.
CS: I almost always go into a race with a plan, but that plan will vary depending on who’s in the race, what kind of race it is, and what kind of shape I’m in.