Catching Up With Utah's Ben Saarel
It's been a whirlwind season for Utah senior Ben Saarel (Sr., Park City, UT). After running to a third place finish at the Bob Firman Invitational (ID) earlier in the season, Saarel ran through his Utah competition on his way to another Utah state cross country title, where he just missed Utah legend Luke Puskedra's state meet course record by two seconds, as he crossed the line in 14:56.7, winning by 34 seconds.
Saarel, who won the "B" heat of the 3,200m at the Arcadia Invitational (CA) last spring in 9:01.46, is on a mission to show he's one of the very best in the country. Recently, Saarel placed second at the competitive Nike Cross Nationals Southwest Regional, finishing second, four seconds behind race winner Bernie Montoya in 14:52.
We recently had a chance to interview Saarel, where he talks about his season and his post-season expectations.
Scott Bush (SB): Congrats on a great season, which saw you winning your third state cross country title. What does it mean to you to win three state titles and nearly break the state meet mark?
Ben Saarel (BS): I am really happy I put a good race together at state. It has been a privilege to run with a lot of great runners in Utah. It has been an awesome experience in high school, and I couldn't ask for anything more.
SB: With focus now shifting to post-season competition, what are your post-season goals?
BS: I hope to put a couple more good races together and be competitive with the best guys in the country.
SB: How has your training changed over the past year? It seems like you've made another big jump in performance this fall?
BS: My coaches have taught me that running is a progression. I've learned to be patient with my training and increase my mileage and intensity gradually.
SB: Earlier in the season, you raced at the Bob Firman Invitational, where you lost a close battle to two other nationally ranked individuals in Joe Hardy and Kai Wilmot. What did you learn from that race?
BS: Those guys are both really good runners and they both ran a smarter race than I did and you can't make mistakes against guys like that. I am still learning.
SB: You live, go to school and train at altitude. Do you feel your training is much different than other runners you meet throughout the season?
BS: No, my training is probably similar.
SB: Park City is a ski town. In the winter months, do you keep with structured training or do you switch it up a little and do some skiing?
BS: In the winter I run where and when I can, and everybody I know skis, and I always look forward to a few good runs on a bluebird day.
Fast Four Question
SB: Shoes you race in?
BS: Whatever fits and is comfortable
SB: Favorite school subject?
SB: Best TV show?
BS: Breaking Bad
SB: Favorite food?
BS: Lamb vindaloo