Belen Jesuit senior year Elliot Clemente is one of the top cross country runners in the state regardless of class. Last year, Clemente finished as the 3A runner-up in 15:25.07 and two weeks later set a new personal best of 15:03 to place fifth at the Foot Locker South regional and advice to nationals in San Diego where he finished 25th in the field of forty. Find out the senior and the rest of his teammates bond each summer, his goals for the team and himself, and what meets he is looking forward to the most in this Cross Country Q&A.
What has your summer training been like?
It's been great. We started off early this summer building a strong base for the rest of the season. We've been running at a couple new locations this season to change things up. We just got back from our summer trip to North Carolina which was really fun and one of the best trips we've had training wise. My weekly mileage has been between 45 and 50 miles. Three days a week we have our long runs and the other three day we either have fartleks, track workout, tempo run, mile repeats, and a lot of core work most of the days.
Every year your coach Frankie Ruiz plans a summer trip for the team. Where all have you gone and what have those trips done to build team unity?
Starting when I was in 8th grade and first part of the varsity team we visited Eugene, Oregon. Freshman year was Franklin, North Carolina. My sophomore year we went to Boulder and Colorado Springs, Colorado. Last year, we visited Franklin, North Carolina again. We go white water rafting, to the movies, rock climbing, visit some rec centers, visit Olympic training centers, and universities. We meet some former Olympians that come talk to us and a bunch of other things. The whole point of the trip is to build team bonding. On a day to day basis we only see each other during practice, but when we go on these trips were thrown together participating in no school activities which brings everyone closer together, from the newcomers to the seniors.
You've won three team titles at Belen. One as an eighth grader, a freshman, an d last year as a junior. What have the last four years been like and what do you attribute the team's success to?
The feeling was great winning the first year I was part of the team. It definitely is harder having the bullseye on the backs of our gold jerseys because that means we have to work twice as hard to keep everyone off our backs. I'd attribute our success to the coaching staff and alumni that come to help out.
The team loses Joe Lindsay who finished fifth last year to graduation. Other than that you return the rest of your top seven from last year's state championship team. What are your team goals and who are some guys you expect to step up and have a big year?
Definitely Avery Lopez and Peter Jude are going to step it up this year, but most of the top ten are going to bring down their times. Depth is one of the team's best attributes because we know we can rely on other runners to do what they have to do and the team's main focus which is to win states.
You've finished 13th, 5th, 3rd and 2nd. Since you were an eighth grader your times have dropped from 17:00 to 15:00. Last year you placed fifth at Foot Locker South and 25th at Foot Locker Nationals. What are your goals for your senior season?
I want to get into the 14's. I want to win the individual and team title at states this year, to win Foot Locker South, and to place top five at Foot Locker Nationals over in California.
How would you describe yourself as a runner?
I think my strength is my endurance and my stamina. My weakness is getting off the line. I hate being trapped behind slow runners. I feel comfortable being in the front pack.
Do you have any pre-race routines or rituals you do?
I wear the same socks every race. I just feel comfortable with these socks. They're these lime green Nike race socks I found at a Nike outlet store. I don't want to take the chance of switching socks and maybe getting blisters. No, they don't stink. I wash them after every use.
Is there a song or any style of music that pumps you up before a race?
Definitely dance or club music pumps me up before races. I don't have a specific artist or group except maybe Swedish House Mafia.
What is your favorite thing about being a runner?
My favorite thing about being a runner is the fact that you control the outcome through your performance at practices and races.
What meets are you looking forward to the most this season?
The meets I'm most looking forward to are states and Foot Locker because the level of competition at these meets inspires me. All of the other meets are part of the team building process.
Interview After Foot Locker Nationals: 25th Place
Interview After Foot Locker South: 5th Place
Interview After 3A Cross Country Championships - 2nd Place