The Mt. SAC Invitational is usually the last targeted meet for many teams before they turn their attention toward their league meets and beyond. This past Saturday, Bellarmine, one of the best Central Coast Section and Division I teams in California made their annual trek to Walnut, California. The team finished a competitive 10th in the always competitive Boys Division 1/2 Team Sweepstakes race. They were led by senior Meika Beaudoin-Rousseau who continued his undefeated season by notching the fastest time of the weekend at 14:33. Last Cross Country season, Meika won the West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) and CCS Division I titles and finished in 3rd place at the California State Championship. He extended his season by finishing in 9th place at the Foot Locker West Regional race (photo above) and finished in 19th place at the FL National meet at Balboa Park.
1) You just ran the fastest time at the Mt. SAC Invitational this past Saturday. What were your goal time and race plan going into the race?
I didn't have a very specific time goal. I feel like time goals sometimes take away from what racing is really about, which is running your best race given the conditions at hand. I was, however, hoping to crack 14:40.
2) How and when did you get your start in running? What other sports did you play aside from XC and TF? What were your TF PRs before HS?
I guess I can say I "started" running in middle school for my school's track and field team, but I didn't completely devote myself to running and training in till track season my freshman year in high school. I played competitive soccer for ten years before switching to running as my main sport. In middle school, I ran 4:52 in the mile, and 2:09 in the 800.
3) What were some of your highlights as a freshman runner at Bellarmine in both sports? Who were the senior leaders of the team that helped mentor your transition to high school running?
Being on such a big team that emitted incredible amounts of positivity was probably the highlight for me. The comradery fostered by the upperclassmen, and getting to make friends that were also dedicated to running is really what pushed me to choose XC.
4) If there one breakthrough race that you can pick out from your first three years in high school (could be cross country or track)?
Probably the league finals my junior year in XC, when I broke 15 for the first time on the crystal springs course. I hadn't expected it to happen, and it was a huge confidence booster for me in the following races.
5) What does a typical training week like like for you? Any morning runs? Strength work? The distance of your long runs? Any repeated workouts?
At Bellarmine, we typically train 6 days/week, with 3 quality workouts and 3 recovery workouts. Mr. McCrystle mixes steady states, tempos, and fartleks at the right time during the season to ensure we peak at the end, so our week to week quality work varies. We go to weight room twice a week as a team and work on strength and core. Unless we have a race, our long runs are always on Saturday. I usually get 10-12 miles like the rest of the team.
6) Tell us about your coach and how he has helped you develop into the runner you are today. What are some important lessons that you have learned from him?
Mr. McCrystle is an incredible coach. He helps us grow both as people and runners. He has tremendous knowledge of the sport. He is respected, approachable, and funny, and inevitably as runners, we strive to become more like him. The most important thing I've learned is that my team is always more important than any individual. Focusing on the team and teammates leads to a different attitude towards practice and racing. It gives a sense of purpose and obligation, that carries me through everything. I run for my team, not just for myself, and that attitude changes the way I race.
7) Favorite XC course? Favorite XC invitational? Favorite XC workout? Favorite long run? Favorite TF event? Favorite TF invitational? Favorite TF workout? Favorite Bellarmine team tradition? Favorite free time activity?
My favorite course is probably crystal springs, but my favorite invitational is Mt. SAC because of the tremendous energy of the meet. It does a really good job of celebrating the sport. My favorite workout throughout both XC and track is definitely steady states, I love the feeling of going fast without being very tired. Being a distance runner, my favorite track event is definitely the 3200m. My favorite track invitational is the Dublin Distance Fiesta. I think the most important and fun tradition we have as a team is a weeklong leadership retreat in Tahoe every summer. We stay in the cabin of an alumni, train, and plan out our process goals for the season. The retreat contributes to the positive, supportive atmosphere of the team. In my free time, I enjoy fishing, kayaking, and hiking. In general, I love spending times outdoors, and that goes really well with running.
Focusing on the team and teammates leads to a different attitude towards practice and racing.
8) What are some of your proudest accomplishments (team and individual) during your time on the Bellarmine XC and TF teams?
In cross country, winning the Mt. SAC Invitational and going to Foot Locker are definitely huge personal highlights. However, accomplishing something as a team is often more meaningful. Winning league as a team my sophomore year was meaningful because everybody on the team had their best race of the season that day. It is a lot more fun to celebrate when everyone is happy with their performance. Penn Relays is definitely my biggest track highlight (photo below courtesy of Penn Relays).
9) Can you tell us about the Penn Relays experience and what you remember most from the entire trip
Winning Penn relays as a team was awesome. Being in that stadium, and seeing Alex (2nd from left) lean us to the win is probably one of the most memorable experiences I've had in my entire life. We also stayed on Sunday to watch the rest of the meet, including USA vs the world, which was really cool.
10) As you get closer to making your college decision, how much has running been a factor? What else are you looking for as far as your college experience and possible major?
Running has been a pretty significant part of my college decision, but there are many other factors that play a role. Academics are really important to me, and being part of a team that fosters a supportive environment of comradery is crucial. In terms of majors, I'm looking for something in the natural sciences, like biology.
11) Now that you are a senior, what have you learned from both sports that you can share with younger runners?
I think the biggest advice I would give to the younger guys, is to never doubt yourself, always push yourself, and most importantly have fun. When you focus on supporting your teammates instead of worrying about yourself, the entire experience of running changes. Practices have a greater purpose, and racing becomes exciting instead of nerve-racking.
12) Anything else you would like to add.
I would just like to thank my family, teammates, and coaches for incredible dedication and support. They have shaped me both as a person and as a runner, and I would be nowhere near where I am today without them.
Thank you very much for your time Meika! AJC