General of the Week: Austin Kinne, ’20

Cross country runner Austin Kinne from Bolingbrook, Ill. finished 8th out of 88 runners at the Shenandoah Hornet Harrier at the Kernstown Battlefield. Although he suffered from numerous injuries his freshman year, he is entering his sophomore season with a newfound patience and optimism. The Phi sat down with Kinne to discuss his personal goals for the year ahead, the impact of upperclassmen leadership on his college athletic career and how he has transitioned from running in the flat suburbs of Chicago to the mountains of Virginia.

Elly Cosgrove

Ring-tum Phi: You led the Blue and White at the Shenandoah Hornet Harrier on Saturday with an eighth-place finish out of 88 other runners. How did that feel?

Austin Kinne: I’d say it was a good finish for our team. You know, we were not running many of our top guys in the race and so we managed to still kind of show that we have this depth to still perform with other teams in the ODAC. I think it was a good stepping point for the freshman to come up and have that role-playing position where they are scoring so, in the future, they’re used to being in those positions.

Phi: What are some of your goals for this season?

AK: Specific goals for the team are that we want to repeat and go to nationals again this year. Obviously we’d like to win ODAC as well. This would be our third-year running if we do it again. The big goal right now is to qualify out of our region to nationals in St. Louis mid-November. Individually, my goal is to bring the best out of people I can and then make myself the best that I can be, so if someone on our team is, you know, performing at their best, they’re going to have to beat me at my best.

Phi: How did the season up to this point prepare you for the 6k course this past weekend?

AK: The first half of our season is a lot of preparation; kind of getting into racing shape. Nothing that we do up until this point is really all-out effort. A lot of our preliminary races we treat as tempos and so we kind of have a workout mentality and then work from there and maybe have a little pick-up at the end.

Phi: This is your second season with the Generals. How has upperclassmen leadership impacted your time at Washington and Lee?

AK: I’ve had great leadership up until this point and they’ve influenced how I interact with those below me in trying to bring the best out of them. It’s a very symbiotic relationship in that it’s a ‘you scratch my back, I scratch yours’ and just get the best out of each other.

Phi: What does a typical practice look like for the cross country team? How far do you normally run? Do you practice different types of terrain?

AK: Practices start typically with some dynamic stretches, just to get the body loose and ready to run. Runs vary from person to person. We have guys running 40 miles a week and guys pushing upwards of 90 on some weeks. And then there are probably four or five main routes that we take. Some are through town. We use the Chessie Trail a lot.

Phi: What is something you’ve improved on the most during your time with the Generals?

AK: I would say patience more than anything. My freshman year I really wanted to get at it faster than what should’ve been and it’s kind of having that large-picture mentality of seeing the end goal and not just the immediate goal of ‘I just want to crush this one workout.’

Phi: You dealt with injuries your freshman year. What were they and how did you come back from that?

AK: I dealt with a lot of Achilles injuries last year. I come from the pancake of Illinois, so it’s really flat. So coming here and starting to run in the mountains, I actually tweaked my Achilles a bit and I actually did the same thing this year a little bit…I say that patience to have that slower transition to a different terrain and just kind of trusting that process.

Phi: Do you run track as well and, if so, how do you manage school and athletics if you’re in-season the entire year?

AK: It’s kind of always the same routine. I guess I don’t have anything to really compare it to. It’s just how it is.  But, typically, practice is at the same time and the two sports are not all that different in terms of how we train for them, so it’s just kind of maintaining that balance throughout a longer period of time.

Phi: What’s your favorite thing to eat before a race?

AK: See, I’m really lame, and I’ll just do a bunch of pasta. And they say that carbo-loading is good for you, but you know it really doesn’t matter all that much for how far we run. It really matters for like marathons. I do what’s worked for me all these years, so it’s pretty bland pasta.

Phi: The team is currently ranked nationally, how does the team feel about this ranking?

AK: We’re confident that we can be that team that’s 29th. Obviously rankings don’t matter up until when you actually compete at that level, so you know it’s not to feel pride in that, but just that we have expectations to meet now.