Sept. 26, 2006
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Senior cross country runner Justin Zanotti and his teammates traveled to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., last season. The Michigan State men's team was not there competing however, they were there in support of the women's team. Narrowly missing the national stage last season has been a driving force for Zanotti and his teammates in the 2006 season. Zanotti recently took a minute to reflect on his career and team goals.
Q: This is a very deep squad this year, what does that bring to the team?
A: We had two of our top runners redshirt last year, and they are running this season. They help out a lot and should be in our top five. With a larger number performing well, if someone doesn't have a good race, we have other people there to step into their place.
Q: You were in the back of the pack at the Spartan Invitational, and then kicked it in for a sixth-place finish. Where do you find that surge when racing?
A: There was one point in the race, around the two-mile mark, where there was a gap that opened up. I just made a move and got through, catching up with the back of the lead pack. From there, I just ran off of them.
Q: How have you improved over the past three years?
A: The first two seasons, I didn't race that much. With last year and this year, I have been running more, especially in the bigger meets. I know what the bigger meets are like now and know what to expect. You are still nervous, but it's more controlled.
Q: On the surface running can seem individualistic. How do you work together as a team?
A: We can feed off of each other, setting the pace, when to kick it in, etc. One of the best parts of being on a team is that we are all very close friends, we know each others strengths and weaknesses, which really allows us to push one another to do our best.
Q: What are the team goals for this year?
A: It was hard because we watched the women's team run at the national meet last year. We didn't quite get in and we had to go watch them, so that has been one of our goals - to make the national meet.
Q: What advice would you give to a young runner?
A: I think sometimes people think you have to run everyday - run fast and run a lot, every single day. I think to be competitive, it's more about being consistent. You have to listen to your body some days.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: I am going to earn my bachelor's degree in criminal justice, and then I think I am going to continue graduate school at Michigan State. I'm not exactly sure what I want to do, but I am interested in some sort of governmental career.