Interview with Stanford Invitational double hurdle champion, Aidan Kirwan

1) Did you have any experience in track before high school? What other sports have you played other than track?
I actually started hurdling in 6th grade and continued throughout middle school. Besides track, I have also played football in high school.

2) What prompted you to start hurdling?
I was thrown into various events as a 6th grader and I saw much success during that amateur year going over hurdles, finishing 3rd place at the county meet that season. I saw this as a reason to continue to hurdle and I improved as middle school continued, but the REAL improvement happened during my final chapters of high school.

3) What were some of your highlights during your freshman and sophomore seasons on the track and field team?
As an underclassmen my main focus was to get the Bruins 10 points for every dual meet (110 and 300 hurdles). That was when Kamara (Biawogi) from Prospect was around so there were athletes at the time that were way above my standards. My biggest highlight of both seasons was winning both hurdle events at St.Francis as a sophomore and that seemed to foreshadow my last two years here at Branham, not just with St.Francis but so far with every invitational I've ran these two events.

4) When did you first realize that you can compete with the best hurdlers in CCS?
As a junior it was expected of me to compete with the top hurdlers as I was the first to post a significant season time in both events. I was able to maintain that for the 300 that season. Local invitationals are always a great indicator of where you stand in the CCS community, especially ones like the St.Francis Invite and CCS Top 8.

5) You qualified for the California state meet last season as a junior in the 300m. hurdles. At what point did making the state meet become realistic and a goal? What did you learn from your state meet experience last year that you feel will help you this season?
At the beginning of every track season I set high goals and expectations for myself, and at the beginning of junior year I established that I was going to the state meet with a determined mindset. I'm glad I was able to experience the environment of the track in Fresno because this year when I go back, I'll have already gotten used to the feeling, and it won't be a distraction.

6) You have taken your hurdling to an even higher level this year. What do you feel are the reasons for your improvement?
During my Junior year, I was facing some serious issues regarding my technique that I couldn't solve given the lack of time at the end of the season, and I had put a lot of my time and focus into the 4x1 and 4x4 relays. This year, although I still occasionally run the relays for Branham, I have been given a lot more time to buckle down and focus on the 110 and 300's.

7) What does a typical weekly schedule look like for you now in terms of practices? When do you work on the highs and when do you work on the intermediates? How often do you lift? What else do you do that you feel helps you in hurdling?
I work 5 days a week; Mondays are always the difficult days where I either work on the intermediates or do ladders/repeats. I lift on Tuesdays and work with my relay team and later do various drills, mostly hurdles. Wednesdays are the days I typically rest and Thursday I am thrown into events at dual meets that usually help with my training and hurdles in general(100m dash,400m dash). Come Fridays I lift again and finally work on the highs. Saturdays are when I showcase my hard work at invitationals.

8) Tell us a little about your Stanford Invitational experience this past weekend. Did you have any goals coming into the meet? How different were the 400m. Hurdles compared to what you normally do, the 300s?
I actually intended on destroying the 400 hurdles with a 53-54 but I will settle for a 55. Surprisingly the race wasn't as brutal as I thought it would be and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The biggest difference for a high school athlete is that in the 300's you are conditioned to hammer through the entire race, but in the 400 hurdles you don't have that strength and power, so you really need to maintain your energy. There were a lot of things I did that race that were technically incorrect, and it carried on to the 110's. Unfortunately because we ran against the force of the wind I was unable to break 14; but all you can do in the end is to compete and carry through, and that's what I feel I do best.

9) You ran at Arcadia last year. What are you most looking forward to this coming weekend?
Unlike last year, I am now racing against the top performers in the United States at both night meets. I understand that during my absence in the 300's, intermediate hurdlers Connor Meech and Ryan Muir got to catch up. I know I'll be seeing them under the lights the evening of Arcadia, and I intend on bringing the heat of this statewide rivalry. In the 110's I am excited to finally race Alex Billing, a very talented 110 hurdler from Simi Valley, and I'm sure that if there is anyone in California that will push me to break 14, it will be that man.

10) Favorite Invitational? Favorite event? Favorite opponent? Favorite track workout? Favorite non-hurdling event? What do you like to do in your free time?
My favorite invitational is definitely the St.Francis; It's early in the season, relatively large, and I PR every time I go there. My favorite event switches between the 110 and the 300; I have a love/hate relationship with the 300. My favorite opponent of all time is actually none of my cross-state rivals but former sectional rival Jacob Hoekstra (Lincoln) who unfortunately is out this season due to a serious injury. He was always there to push me to that finish line and he even got away with some victories in the 110. I personally enjoy Tuesdays out of all days as they mainly include drills and technical work. I find high jumping to be very fun and relaxing even though my coach would kill me if he caught me going over the bar. In my free time I actually play the piano; and what's interesting about that is that in a way it intertwines with what I do out on the track because of the rhythm involved. My friends and I also like to make documentaries and we occasionally host movie nights.

11) I understand you haven't decided yet where you will be attending college next year. How involved is your future track experience part of the equation?
I believe in college I will be a student-athlete, not an athlete student, but almost on the verge in between. Wherever I end up, whether it be Chico, UCSB, etc, I intend on pursuing a college experience full of hurdling in both the 110's and 400's.

12) From your own experience, what do you feel are the key components to being a good hurdler?
When it comes to being a competitive hurdler, you really have to dedicate yourself. I wouldn't be where I am today if I didn't spend all of this hard work on the track every week. Furthermore you need to establish goals for yourself, both big and small, that will impact your track career: Be confident. But most importantly you need to have a good head on your shoulders and a strong sense of direction of where you want to take yourself not only as an athlete but as an individual.