Sports

Altopp ’20 leads men’s cross country at regionals

Sophomore completes 10-kilometer course, finishing 14 out of 254 runners

By
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, November 16, 2017

Altopp ’20 has made a significant progress this season, placing 14th in the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships.

The men’s cross country team closed out its season in New York last Friday, finishing seventh out of the 37 squads that competed at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships. The Bears recorded 245 points and finished second among Ivy League competitors, trailing only Columbia. Gabe Altopp ’20 delivered a standout performance, completing the 10-kilometer course with a time of 32:17.7 to finish 14th out of 254 runners.

Since arriving at Brown in 2016, Altopp has been a significant presence on the team. Altopp set a personal best of 25:01.3 in the 8K at the NEICAA Championships in his rookie season, recording a ninth place individual finish. He also registered a 28th-place finish at the Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown and was 52nd in the 2016 Ivy League Heptagonal Championships. In the 2016-17 indoor season, he came in fourth in the mile at the John Donahue Games with a time of 4:13.97.

For his outstanding run last week, Altopp has been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.

Herald: You placed highly this weekend in the 10K. What was that race like for you?

Altopp: It was muddy to begin with, and it was 25 degrees, so it took a lot of focus to not let those factors distract me from the goal, which was to place as high as possible. Over 10 kilometers, it’s 30 minutes of sharp focus that you need to maintain. For me, that was hard at times, especially when it started to hurt later on in the race, but I felt good the whole way through. I just focused on not letting the weather affect me and that ended up working in my favor.

Friday’s meet closed out the team’s 2017 campaign. Can you reflect on the season a little?

For much of the season, I hadn’t been feeling that great. It seemed like there was a net upward trajectory throughout the season. I started off pretty poorly — I wasn’t racing very well, but then, as the season progressed, I began to perform better. I was not expecting to place as highly as I did, so to finish 14th was definitely a nice surprise, and it was definitely a high point of my season.

When did you get into running?

The first year I ended up running was in the spring of seventh grade. Seventh grade was the first year that we were able to start playing sports at my middle school, and we only had an outdoor track. Before high school, I moved to Connecticut, and that’s when I became more serious and started running all three seasons.

Did you play any other sports growing up?

Yeah, baseball was kind of my sport before running — I only joined the track team in middle school because I got cut from the baseball team.

You have competed in different distance events on the track. Do you have a favorite?

Yeah, I’d say the 3K, that’s probably my favorite. It’s a nice mix — it’s an endurance event, but it’s not like the 10K. Last Friday was a 10K, and that’s a very grueling race because you’re running for over 30 minutes usually. The 3K is over in eight and a half minutes. I also just enjoy running on the track. Fifteen laps on the indoor track is the perfect length I think.

Do you have a favorite meet day breakfast or meal?

I usually just go with cereal, but on race day last Friday we were at a hotel, so there were more options. I think I had a bagel and eggs, and two cups of coffee; coffee’s a must have — and orange juice. Pretty standard stuff, nothing special.

Do you have any pre-race rituals or routines that you do to get in the zone?

No, I try to stay relaxed. I try to visualize the race before I get in the line, but that’s not much of a ritual. I guess the biggest thing is just staying relaxed and not letting the nerves get to me, which is pretty easy to do on a stage as big as Regionals or Heps.

How did you choose Brown?

I was looking at other schools, mostly in the Ivy League. I came to Brown because of the team here. When I visited in the fall of my senior year, this team stood out to me — it was definitely the most cohesive, and I liked a lot of the guys. I had a great host too — shoutout to Andrew Foerder ’18. I was intrigued by the open curriculum — that seemed appealing to me, but it was definitely the team that stood out to me above everything else.

It won’t be long until the team starts competing indoors on the track. How are you preparing for that? What are your plans for the off-season?

We’re already gearing up for indoor. Right now we’re just doing base mileage — we’re not working out or anything. In the off-season, I’ll still be running. We have winter break, so I plan on enjoying that. I’ll still be running out in the snow, but won’t have classes to worry about or anything. I’m not doing much in the off-season, just getting excited to race in indoors.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.