By Gabriel Armistead Chapman
This week I sat down with freshman Track & Field runner Ethan Gniot to talk about competing in his first collegiate track meet. On January 17th, Gnoit participated in the UW-Oshkosh Invitational and posted the 30th-fastest mile time in the nation, finishing in 4:25.49 and beating his personal best by almost 20 seconds. Gniot was named the Midwest Conference Performer of the Week.
Gabe Chapman: So take us through the meet and your race a little bit, what was going through your head?
Ethan Gniot: Well, first collegiate meet, kind of a nerve-racking experience. I usually get pretty worked up before races. But for the race I knew there was going to be some tougher competition from the Oshkosh guys, I just figured that I would try to hold on to their top two guys for as long as possible, and eventually they pulled away from me, but as I was running I started hearing my coach on the sidelines getting really excited and yelling “School record!” At that point I was a little confused and started wondering if he was still talking to me. This being my first college race and all I had no expectations of making such a large jump in my time. But when I finished I realized, wow, that’s a very good time for me.
GC: Do you usually run the mile?
EG: No, I usually run the 800 and 400, along with a couple relays.
GC: When you were running the race did you think about anything differently or prepare differently, since this isn’t your typical event?
EG: My build up for the race was the same as what I usually do for the 800. I always get really nervous beforehand and it helps to just put on some music and visualize the race over and over, almost like I’m watching a movie of me running the race like I want to run it, and the outcome being the way I want it. So on the bus ride to the meet and before my race I was just doing that, visualizing running up front with the other guys, making the right moves and the right time, and I think that really helps getting in the mindset of what I want to do in the moment during the race.
GC: How long have you been running track?
EG: Freshman year of high school. I went from doing no athletic activities whatsoever to running a lot of miles every week. Not fun at first, but you get used to it, and now I love doing it.
GC: And now you have one of the best times in the conference.
EG: Yeah, haha. Running has been such a big thing for me ever since I started, and being with the team has really changed me as a person.
GC: How has the switch from high school track and field to college been for you?
EG: I was close with my high school team, but I’m so much closer to my LU teammates because we’re around each other so much of the time, and I think its awesome having this close group of people who are the reason I know I made the right choice coming to Lawrence.
GC: Are there any personal or team goals that you’ve set for yourself this year?
EG: Everyone has their own specific events, so everyone has individual goals for how they want to perform, but I don’t think we’ve set out a large team goal at this point. Personally, I would like to run a low 1:50 for my 800, which would beat my best time of 1:53, and I’m planning on hopefully making a splash at conference. Maybe advancing to something a little farther into the postseason.
GC: Sounds great. Do you think you’ll get to run the mile at all?
EG: We’ll see, cause I’m still learning how the collegiate level meets run, but with my time I don’t actually have to run the mile again until conference, because I’m technically qualified at this point, so as long as 10 or 12 people don’t run faster than me. But I could see coach maybe putting me in a couple more times to see if I can get that time down a little more and get the record. But we’ll see, it’s a whole new experience being at the collegiate level, and I’m really enjoying it.