August 11, 2010

SCU's Richard Zhu Trains at the U.S. Olympic Complex

By, Stephen Hobbs '11

Richard Zhu (RZ), a junior from Medford, Oregon is not your typical Santa Clara student-athlete. Zhu, who spent part of his summer at the U.S. Olympic Complex in Colorado Springs, was motivated to participate on the cross country team at his high school because of his sweet tooth and he knew nothing about Santa Clara University when he first applied. However, after only two years at SCU, Zhu is elated with his decision.

Santaclarabroncos.com sat down with Richard Zhu and discussed everything from skydiving to Kanye West…

SCU:  What inspired you to start cross country?

RZ: My first experience with cross country was in eighth grade. The real reason I joined the cross country team was to train year round for track. Luckily, in middle school, the farthest we ran was two miles and we always stopped by an ice cream shop on our runs.

SCU:  What was the F.L.A.M.E Program like, and what do you think you will bring back from that experience?

RZ:
The F.L.A.M.E. program was an incredible four-day experience. I met multiple Olympic gold medalists and other dedicated student-athletes and my four days in Colorado Springs is something I will never forget. Along with all of the sweet U.S. Olympic gear, I learned many lessons from the seminars and discussion involving leadership, diversity, communication and creating your own legacy. Hopefully, I will be able to apply these lessons in my work on the track, in the classroom and in various organizations on campus.

SCU:  Why did you choose Santa Clara after high school? What attracted you to the school?
  
RZ: My own experience in choosing Santa Clara is rather strange compared to a typical student-athlete story. Santa Clara was the last school I applied to and I would have never applied if my coach didn't tell me about it. About three days before the regular decision deadline, I turned in my application without knowing where and what the university was about. Once I was admitted, I decided to visit the university on my own. From the gorgeous campus to the small class sizes, Santa Clara had everything I was looking for in a university and also in a home for the next four years. It was after I decided to come to Santa Clara that I wanted to run at the collegiate level.

SCU:  What has been you best memory of Santa Clara as a student?


RZ:
Tough question. There have been so many memories on this campus that I couldn't even count. From eating in Benson with teammates way past the closing time to bed surfing down the stairs in my dorm (it was the last night of the school year, so bunch of my friends decided to take advantage of it) to wearing the Santa Clara maroon and white on the track, there have been so many experiences I couldn't even decide on a "best" memory.

SCU: Is there one teammate that you enjoying running with? Which one of your teammates do you respect the most for their work ethic?

RZ:
Chris Sampson, Guadalupe Gonzalez, and Kevin Oliver are just a few members of the team that make each run enjoyable. Having eighteen guys to run with everyday is something I've been blessed with at Santa Clara. Stephanie Wilson is definitely a teammate that I respect and admire. Her work ethic, dedication, perseverance, friendship and love for the sport are characteristics that make her not only a great athlete, but also a great person. Going to a Jesuit university, Stephanie is a role model for all members of Santa Clara to emulate.

SCU:  Do you have a favorite race or memory from last years cross country season?

RZ:
Last cross country season was a learning season and I had to assess my weaknesses and strengths as an athlete. Luckily, putting it together for the Bronco Invitational, our home meet, was the highlight of the season. Many members of the team ran personal bests and we finally defeated USF. My favorite memory had to be seeing Stephanie Wilson finish sixth at the West Regional Championships, which foreshadowed her exceptional national finish, and to see all of her hard work pay off.
  
SCU: What sport do you love to watch at Santa Clara? Do you have a favorite game or memory of a non-cross country/ track event?

RZ:
The basketball games are always a highlight, especially the Gonzaga or St. Mary's games. Also, I'm an avid fan of tennis so I attempt to watch some tennis when the team has a home match.
  
SCU:  What is your favorite song to run to right now?

RZ:
My ipod is always playing Jack Johnson, Kanye West, or Jason Mraz, so I just put in on shuffle and go.


SCU:  It says in your bio that you enjoy skydiving. When was the last time that you went? How many times have you gone?

RZ: There's a funny story behind that. During my freshman year, my entire class decided to spice up our individual biographies on the athletic website. So I thought skydiving would spark my bio. Unfortunately, I've never gone skydiving but someday hope I can experience the sensation of being dropped out of an airplane, thousands of feet in the air.