Mark Gulesian was a standout for Miami Columbus during their three year cross country state championship run from 2008-2010. Gulesian was also a member of two state champion 4x800 meter relay teams. He is now running for Babson College in Boston, Massachusetts.
Where did you continue your running career after high school?
I chose Babson College because I was interested in studying business and they are a leader in entrepreneurship. After visiting I realized that I could make a lot of connections for future job opportunities. They also compete at the NCAA Div. III level and I thought rather than go Div. I where I would struggle to make any impact at all, I would fit nicely into Div. III.
How has your college career been going?
Well, my freshman cross country season didn’t go as well as I hoped it would. I got hurt midway through and had some ups and downs trying to finish, but in my opinion I had a great track season, running 4:13 for the mile and 3:56 for 1500 meters. Sophomore cross country went much better where I ran a 25:09 for 8k and finished in the top fifteen at all of my invitationals up until regionals where I finished 22nd, one spot out of the 7th individual qualifying spot for Nationals. This year for track I hope to break 4:10 in the mile and run somewhere around 3:50 for 1500, hopefully a little below to qualify for Nationals.
What was the biggest adjustment you had to make to compete at the college level?
Well in high school it was always easy to move to the front and run with maybe five to ten other runners in a lead pack. I guess I tried to replicate that at the NCAA level and it was miserable. I wasn't ready for the jump from 5k to 8k, so I really had to move from trying to run up front to being at a comfortable pace in the middle or back of a chase. It's also a change having to organize your classes around running so you have to make the most of your time.
Is there anything you can tell high school athletes to better prepare them for the college experience?
Well, first I have to say don't try to jump straight into mileage. I tried to keep up high mileage and intensity to get through longer races and it whowed when I couldn’t finish my freshman cross country season. Take it slowly and work your way up. You have a whole four or five years so don't rush it. Also, don't get packed into the wrong crowd. It’s relatively easy to get pushed off course with college life. You should always think to do the right thing for your running career.
What memories from competing in high school stand out the most?
Definitely winning our first of three cross country championships. It was a hard time for our team, with people falling apart, and the loss at regionals. We pulled through though and came together when it counted. Also running at the NXN championship, that's an experience I'll always remember.
What do you miss most about running in high school?
I miss running up in the front and finishing in the top. Now I'm lucky if I'm racing in the top twenty at a big meet.
What piece of coaching or advice that someone gave you has been the biggest help?
The 3 Bs of running. I know it sounds funny, but I really do think about this in a race. Unbreakable, Unbendable, and Unbeatable. I was struggling with a longer distance and mental toughness is a very large part of being a distance runner. You need not only the physical capability to beat someone, but the mental capability as well.