Merritt Island senior Steven Cross is one of six Florida boys to make the Foot Locker National Finals more than once in the meet's 37 year history. After finishing 29th in 16:12.00, Cross knows what the meet entails, the style of competition he will face, and what it will take to earn All-American honors. We caught up with him to talk about the last cross country meet of his high school career and his training leading up.
Flrunners.com: This course is known for its steep hill which runners run twice. What kind of hill work or workouts have you been doing to prepare for the race?
What is your mindset coming in?
Steven Cross: I have been running High Point in Cocoa as well as in Clermont on the clay roads in order to get myself familiar to hills just as steep and in even harder weather conditions.
FLR: Coach Buonanni said you weren't 100 percent at Foot Locker South, but are ready to go Saturday. Does it help knowing you've been to San Diego before?
SC: My mindset is that I have a lot of room for improvement and redemption coming off of Foot Locker South. I felt terrible during that race and that gives me confidence now that I am feeling much better. Being more familiar to my surroundings than most of my competitors also gives is a little nice, but I'm not going to get to comfortable relying on that. I know have work to do.
FLR: You finished 29th last year. What did you take away from that race?
SC: Last year I don't think I ran as smart as I should have been. I believe I was a little bit in a fog and amazed by everything going on around me. This year, I just need to stay focused on the one thing that matters most in this trip, the race.
FLR: What are your strategies for the course and the race?
SC: I'm going to go out hard and try to establish myself in a good position to be in the top of the runners. Then I'll attack the hill and the downhill, just like everyone else.
FLR: Have you thought yet about if you want push the pace or hold back?
SC: I'll probably hold back, the field is very talented and is well capable of going out fast on its own. My job will be to know when to surge.
FLR: Talk about the prestige of the meet and what it means to just make it this far and to be one of six Floridians who have made it to the national meet two times (Teddy Mitchell of Lyman qualified three times).
SC: It's a terrific feeling, and I think that it's agreeable to say that it was somewhat lucky that I am here for a second time. After the race that I had at the south region, and how I was feeling, it took a lot of heart and a lot of things to align to allow me to make it back to this meet. Now it's time for me to show that I deserve to be out here.
FLR: What would it mean to be an All-American, place top ten, or even win the race and what are you looking forward to the most about the whole experience?
SC: That would mean the world to me, and overall my goal is top 15. All I knew once I started running is that I wanted to be one of the best, I just knew I needed to work hard and see where that would take me. It's an awesome feeling, I'm honored to be one of the few.
FLR: Last question, which of the following non running related activities are you most likely to do: iceskating, jump in the ocean, build a sand castle, or make the craziest t shirt at the team bonding activity on Friday night?
SC: Probably all of the things that don't involve a high risk of injury. So I'll probably pass on the ice skating, but I am definitely looking forward to partaking in the rest. It should be a great time.