Five years ago, as a senior at Princeton University, Emily Kroshus was the undisputed distance champion of the Ivy League. She won the cross country championship, the indoor 5,000-meter run and then earned the outdoor Most Outstanding Performer award by sweeping the 5k and the 10k. She also earned All-America honors in all three seasons, taking fourth nationally in her final collegiate race, the 10k at the NCAAs in Texas. Kroshus keeps her eyes on Heps as her alma mater has become one of the nation’s top distance programs. She recently slowed down to answer the fastest five questions in track & field. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: As a high school phenom in Calgary, you could have gone to any college in the U.S., but opted to enroll at Princeton, which at the time had not won a Heps cross country title in 20 years. Describe that decision.
A: At the time, not only had Princeton not won a Heps cross country title in 20 years, but they were pretty near the bottom of the pack. So looking back on it, it’s hard to justify athletically and I don’t think it was as well considered as it could have been, but in the end I think it worked out for the best on all fronts. I wanted to go to a top-five academic school and my parents encouraged me to go somewhere where running would be lower pressure (e.g. no scholarship). I really liked the coach, Peter Farrell, as he was somewhat fatherly and low pressure and I just felt at home on the campus.
Q: As you look at the program’s subsequent success, do you and Cack Ferrell look back and say, “Yup, we started that?”
A: To some extent — and it’s really rewarding — but the current generation of girls in the program have just taken it to a whole new level. I think Liz Costello in particular has really raised the bar. It’s fun keeping in touch with Peter and hearing how the program is progressing.
Q: When you were are Princeton you had to contend with the likes of the O’Neill twins, Caroline Bierbaum, Lindsey Scherf and others. Who was your favorite opponent? And why?
A: I never actually ‘raced’ against any of those girls* [see ed. note below]. Lindsay Scherf was still in high school, Caroline Bierbaum didn’t have her break out year until the year after I graduated and the O’Neill twins were a year ahead of me and were out of my league when I was a junior. I think my favorite ‘opponent’ was actually my teammate Cack Ferrell–not because of wanting to beat her, but because she made me race my best. She was so even keeled, never had a ‘bad’ race and always ran to her fitness — so as long as I stayed near her I knew I would run well. [*ed. note: There is an important lesson here for the youth. Never, ever, rely simply on your recollections when you go ask questions. Otherwise you wind up with regret and embarrassment. That said, Emily and the O’Neill twins were first-team All-Ivy in cross country in both 2001 and 2002.]
Q: Do you have a favorite Heps’ moment?
A: Probably Cross Country Heps in 2003. Even though our team narrowly lost to Columbia (four points), it was a clear indication of how far the program had come. Plus, after three up and down (emphasis on down) years for me personally, it was really gratifying to win the race my senior year.
Q: I know that you still follow Princeton track and field closely, but what are you up to these days?
A: I just finished my first year of a doctoral program in public health at Harvard — which has been extremely enjoyable so far. I’m loving being in Boston and am slowly getting to be a part of the running community here.