Jason Byrne (flrunners.com): A lot of people will be happy to hear that you are staying in state for college, but how did you finally decide on UF over so many of the top programs in the country that you were considering?
Steven Hassen: I traveled all over the country but the best place for me was right here at the University of Florida. I really like Coach Pigg and the guys on the team, and I'm really excited about being able to contribute to their team and help take them to the next level. I think it is a really exciting time to be a Gator.
JB: Do you already have a good relationship with a many guys on team?
SH: The school is fairly close to my house so I am able to go up there on a fairly regular basis. I have talked to the guys and I really really like them. I think that Steve Zeminski and Cory Presinick are really great guys and great runners and have the ability to make Florida great in Cross Country. Plus they have Moise Joseph who seems like a really good captain and team leader. I think all the guys on the team are great and we will really excel next year both in cross and on the track.
JB: These recruits have made the Gators a real deal national threat, has Coach Pigg set any team goals yet? Or any time period where he thinks you all might be able to be top twenty or top ten team?
SH: I think they are capable of being a top twenty team in cross now even with out myself on the team. I really think that next year we will be able to shake things up and qualify for nationals. Next year is a long time away and im sure that the guys on the team and myself will be ready to really shake things up when the time comes.
JB: Did you feel like you needed to make this decision before Outdoors got under way and take that stress off of you? Or did it just happen like that?
SH: I really wanted to make my decision before March so I could really focus on outdoor. I wasn't tring to rush it, but I took all my visits, sat down with my coach and family and decided that the best choice for me both in running and academics was the University of Florida and I'm very happy.
JB: What are the big meets that you will be competing at this spring?
SH: I plan on running Nike Indoors, Arcadia, and Adidas Outdoors. I also plan to run Florida Relays and probably Golden South.
JB: Do you have any goals time-wise?
SH: It's a little to early to really set those time goals right now but I'm really feeling in great shape and that my body is ready to take my running to the next level. Right now I just want to improve from last year and help my team out as much as possible.
JB: Will you be focusing on one event when state comes around? If so I'd assume it would be the 3200?
SH: Thats another decision that will be made a little later on in the year. Depending on how im doing in each event will probably help me make that decision.
JB: How many years have you been running, Steven? And what were your first experiences with the sport?
Favorite color: Orange and blue.
Favorite sport other than running: Basketball
Favorite team: Gators, of course!
Biggest influence on your life: My coach (James Travieso) and my parents.
JB: For younger guys who look up to you, what is the best advice that you could give them?
SH: Don't be afraid to put in the milage. If you want to be a good runner you have to be consistant with your training and work hard everyday. You dont become a state champion overnight. You have to start putting in the milage and avoid missing days and it will help you a lot. Steadily increase your milage and you should see improvement every year. Don't be afraid to work hard.
JB: What kind of shoes do you train in and what kind do you like to race in?
SH: I like to train in Asics 2080's and Asic ds trainer lights and i like to race in Kennedy's.
JB: How often or how many miles do you run in a pair of shoes before getting a new pair?
SH: We have never really charted our miles. I guess when they start getting worn out badly on the bottoms I get a new pair.
JB: Do you take any kind of vitamins or nutrition supplements?
SH: No, but I try to eat a balanced diet.
JB: What is your routine like leading up to a big race? What do you eat the night before? And do you have any superstitions?
SH: I think every runnner has superstitions before he races. I eat spaghetti the night before I race and also eat it two nights before. I make sure I do what my coach wants. Usually I warm up for 10-15 min do some form running get my self mentally ready and go out and do it. I always warm up in the same basketball shorts underneath my warmups and I just try to follow my routine to a T.
JB: What kind of weight training do you do?
SH: I lift light weights about 3 times a week. I also do a lot of push ups and situps to have good core strength.
JB: You are bigger than a lot of runners out there, do you think that is a strength or a liability?
SH: I think it is a strength. It hasn't hurt me so far. I know some poeple may be turned off by a bigger runner but I know I am never going to be built like a Kenyan so I try to promote my own bodies strengths.
JB: What do you think the biggest weakness is in your game, and what have you been doing to work on it?
SH: I try to increase my overall speed. I do a lot of form running to try and help it and I also do striders after my runs to try to improve it.
JB: If you could meet any one person alive or dead, who would it be?
SH: I think it would be Frank Shorter because he was the last American to win a gold medal in the Marathon and he also trained in Gainsville for a while.
JB: What is your favorite 80s cartoon and your favorite 80s movie?
SH: Umm ..... I like Rocky that movie rocks and pumps me up. I don't really watch cartoons but if I had to pick one it would be Scooby Doo.
JB: Okay, thank you very much for your time, Steven.
SH: Thanks a lot Jason. Flrunners has done a lot to promote and improve distance running in Florida. I hope the younger runners continue to keep Florida distance running on the rise. Good luck everyone, work hard, and Go Gators!!!