August 8, 2013

Battling Back: with Bryan Crook

Written by Student Assistant Sean Davis

  Injuries are a part of any sport, but part of being a student-athlete means learning how to overcome injuries and persevering though any obstacle one might face. Bryan Crook (BC), RS Junior and member of the Broncos cross country team, is no stranger to persevering though injuries.
As a talented high school runner, Crook had big expectations for his colligate career. However, he was plagued with injuries right from the start. Many runners would have called it quits after having two seasons filled with injuries, but not Crook. He has battled back to almost full strength and is looking to make a huge impact for the Broncos this season.
Crook was kind enough to take the time to sit down and answer a few of our questions about his comeback and his summer training.

SCU: As a member of the Broncos cross country team for what will be three years now, how would you describe the team atmosphere? What is it like to be apart of the team?

BC: The team atmosphere is tremendous.  We see each other so often that the team feels a lot like family.  It's a pretty fun crew, they definitely make me more excited to show up to practice every morning and we keep it light enough that practice never becomes a grind.  Most of the older guys live together as well so the fun doesn't stop when practice ends.

SCU: What have you learned from your first two years of competing for Santa Clara that you will try and use to your advantage in this upcoming cross season?

BC: I've had a tumultuous career thus far with injuries so I think the greatest takeaway I have from my first two years is a sense of perspective in terms of training. Even though I am going to be a junior next year, I'm going to be a sophomore in terms of eligibility.  Personally, I just have to keep telling myself that I have time to reach the level I want to achieve so I need to be smart about training, because the biggest gains are made by stringing successful training cycles together as opposed to training hard then taking two months off to recover from injury.

SCU: What does your summer training look like? What are you hoping to accomplish as far as strength building goes this summer?

BC: At the end of the track season I had a stress fracture, so I have tried to stay away from setting long term deadlines as far as mileage and workload are concerned.  This mentality keeps the pressure off so I can focus on building up conservatively in order to stay healthy for the duration of the season. Right now I'm doing three easy runs a week with midweek and Sunday long runs and plenty of cross training.  Each week I add roughly five minutes to each of my runs, and I will add a sixth run eventually.  It's frustrating sometimes to hold back when you feel good, but it pays off when you don't have to take time off for aches and pains.

SCU: How would you rate the Broncos prospects for next season in cross? Are you looking to any of the younger guys to contribute to the top seven squad?

BC: The freshman class last year was the deepest group we've ever brought in, so we're definitely hoping a few of them will become key contributors and I think they're ready to step up.  We have an awesome situation right now where I really can't predict who will round out our top seven, and the competition should help everyone run faster. 

            In respect to how we should stack up against the rest of the WCC and West Region, we should be competitive regardless of who toes the line for us.  BYU and Portland are podium contenders for Nationals, but in the WCC I expect us to be the best of the rest. A school best at Regionals isn't out of the question for this squad, and a National berth is the ultimate goal.

SCU: How do you see your role as a member of the team? Now that you are older do you see yourself becoming more of a leader on the team?

BC: Certainly.  Now that I've been here a few seasons I have a decent grip on how I would like the team to operate and what works for us as a team.  I have always preferred to lead by example, but this year I have a responsibility to be more proactive in guiding the team as well as giving advice to the less experienced members of the team.  This is a challenge I am looking forward to.

SCU: With the 2013 World Championships in Moscow this August, is there any pro runner in particular that you are rooting for to win? Who would that be and in which event?

BC: Obviously I want all of the American athletes to do well, and like most distance runners in the US I'm going to be rooting for Galen Rupp run to win the 10k in particular.  His training partner, Mo Farah, is impossible to dislike and looks pretty unbeatable right now however.  Besides Galen, I would love to see Bernard Lagat do well in the 5k and I think Duane Solomon or Nick Symmonds could bring home gold in the 800.