Oct. 17, 2001
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Thomas Chapman has made a tremendous impact on the Santa Clara University men's cross country team over the past three years. This year he has been the Broncos' top finisher in every race that he has competed in, including an overall win at the season-opening Sacramento Invitational. Now, with the West Coast Conference Championships fast approaching, the junior from Fremont, Calif. has his eyes fixed on breaking the perennial hold that Portland has on the conference title. He recently took some time out from classes and training to answer a wide array of questions.
Q: How do you feel your year has gone so far?
A: "The year has been going great! All of the guys, including myself, put in a great summer of training, which really appears to be paying off towards the end of the season. Our big race (WCC Championships) is coming up in about a week and then the NCAA Regionals in Arizona after that, so we hope the hard work we put in will soon pay off."
Q: What are some of the things that you guys do to train in the off season?
A: "We have our spring track season where we go to meets and participate in the 1500 or 5000 with other schools. During the summer we take a few weeks off after school is over before we start building up our mileage when we run again. We run everyday and log around 80-90 miles a week, which might even include around 20 miles on Sunday. Everyday we all meet as a team, so anyone who is around here can come out after work or whatever is going on and run. Heat, rain or shine we are out there working hard just like a regular practice."
Q: What made you decide to become a cross country runner?
A: "Ever since high school I have just loved to run. I received a lot of encouragement from my high school coach to continue running. Then coming up here and running for Coach Maloney and taking his no-tolerance approach to running, in that I need to be out there everyday working hard, has really made and impact on me. Without his guidance as a runner, I don't know where I would be."
Q: How has the team chemistry been so far this year?
A: "The team chemistry is great! We all work hard but we all goof off too. We are all just a bunch of kids that just have a lot of fun, but when it comes down to it we really workout hard and don't goof around. Off the track though, we are definitely a fun team."
Q: What has your experience been like here at Santa Clara?
A: "Everyone here at Santa Clara is cool. Its just one big ol' community. Everyone comes out to sporting events and everyone knows each other. That's what I like about this school is that it is so close together and you see the people you know everyday as opposed to the big schools where you don't see those people as often. I really like that aspect."
Q: What do your future plans include after your senior year next year?
A: "I am hoping that I can continue running, possibly looking into running for the Aggies or maybe Stanford's Farm Team, something of that nature especially if I have another good season next year. I would definitely love to continue running but we'll see where my career paths take me, and what kind of job I might have. I would love to be able to work competitive running into that schedule."
Q: What are your thoughts on the upcoming WCC Championships that will take place on October 27 at the Crystal Springs Course in Belmont, Calif.?
A: "Portland seems to have it hands down this year. They are ranked sixth in the nation right now, they have a really solid team. Hats off to their coach Rob Conner for making them who they are. They have a pretty tough team this year, but we are a solid second. USD should be one of our biggest competitors, but I think that we will end up edging them out. Next year however, with Michael Helms coming back and myself, along with the improvement of the younger guys like Benjamin Gauen, Ricky Brackett and Devlin Croal, who are all having great years this year, we will look to hopefully break up Portland's top-five. Possibly we might have a shot to narrow that gap even more and beat Portland next year. That is a definite goal, and we hope to do that."
Q: What are your thoughts on teammate Michael Helms, and the sacrifice he is making this year for the team?
A: "It was tough for Mike to do seeing as how he didn't know if he would be able to do it schedule wise and living wise. But he decided to redshirt this year knowing how far I had come along and how far along the other guys had been improving and decided that it was best for the team to sacrifice his true senior season to come back and have an even better fifth year. With that, hopefully he and I running up front and everyone else coming on strong and closing that gap we will have a solid team next year. I am sure that it was hard for him at the time considering some of the other things that he had to consider, but I am pretty sure that he believes that it was the right decision."
Q: Who is the person that you most admire?
A: "That would have to be my former teammate Charlie Brennaman, who was also my roommate last year. He came out his freshman and sophomore years with all the talent in the world and decided to just blow off running following his sophomore year. He took in all that college had to offer as far as parties and things like that, but then one day he just realized that he was wasting his talent. So he comes back for his senior year and just dominates and tears up the conference. Everyone on the team was so impressed with how he didn't waste his talents. That was somewhat like me as I was coming into college I wasn't really thinking about running as I concentrated on engineering. I ended up watching Charlie and he inspired me not to waste my talent either. So I just rededicated myself to running off of Charlie's inspiration and have pushed myself to aspire to where I am today and I have Charlie to thank for it."
Q: What sorts of personal goals have you set for yourself this year?
A: "Personally this year, I would love to get top-five in the WCC, but that is going to be tough with Portland whose top-seven are all very solid. My long-tern goal at the end of this year is to hopefully make the NCAA Championships coming out of the West Region, which I would have to qualify in a top-20 spot to do."