Catching up with Dublin senior Chris Middleton-Pearson

Over the past four years, one of the most improved programs in California has been Dublin HS. Since 2016, the Dublin HS boys have won three consecutive NCS titles (2 in Division II and last year in Division I). During that same time period, they have finished 4th (Div II in 2016), 2nd (Div II in 2017) and 4th (Div I in 2018) at the California State XC Meet. One of the key cogs during that same time period is current Gael senior, Christopher Middleton-Pearson. He has been on the varsity team all four years and is the unquestioned leader of this year's team that was ranked 3rd in Division I in our first statewide rankings of the season. Earlier this season, Middleton-Pearson chased Jesuit senior Matt Strangio (above in Eric Taylor photo) to a course record at the De La Salle Nike Invitational. We reached out to Middleton-Pearson before the Clovis Invitational which turned out to be a tough effort for him as he was under the weather leading up to the highly competitive meet. Last track season, Middleton-Pearson posted the following PRs, 1:55.26, 4:09.46 and 9:09.19 and finished in 5th place in the 1600m at the California State Track and Field meet.

1) Your last race at the De La Salle Nike Invitational, you finished in 2nd place behind Matt Strangio as both of you broke the course record. What was your plan going into the race and how did you feel about your effort?
Going into the De La Salle invitational, I knew that the race was going to be stacked with fast Norcal-ish runners and a quick finish time was expected. However, by how much would we break the course record was on my mind because having the top three returning milers all in one race, it was almost certainly bound to be broken. From this, I had a race plan to emphasize on gritting through the middle mile and winning with the course record. After coming off of a pull away in Oregon, I wanted to work on staying on my competitors and following their moves the next time I raced. I succeeded in doing so and am pleased with how the race went, and going forward I will work on my form when I'm finishing and retaining strength.

2) Where will your next two races be and have you looked ahead to see who you are racing?
The Amanda Garcia Invitational will be my tune-up race for the rollout at the Clovis invitational. I never look ahead at the competition of upcoming races because it never matters to me. No matter the competition, I will perform to my best ability and lay it all out on the course.

3) What does a normal training week look like for your team? Any morning runs? Repeat workouts? Distance of your weekly long run (typical pace during this run)? What kind of hill repeats? What else does your team do that you feel is important for your team's success?
A typical training week for us is Monday through Saturday. In that week we do easy runs in 55 minutes Monday, Thursday, and Friday. And our workout days are Tuesday and Saturday, sometimes Friday depending on the week. We also throw in a few morning minutes(30) here and there on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Wednesday also being our long run day! I normally run for 90 minutes and the mileage varies depending on the conditions of the day, how I feel, etc. Usually, the pace of that will start at 6:10 pace and ill work my way down to the 5:40s by the end of it. I do so because my coach likes to accentuate the increase in pace towards the end because you should be getting faster as you finish, mimicking racing in a way. I believe our hill repeats are 180 meters and we usually do from 10-18 depending on the time of the season; goal time being around 28 seconds.

4) When and how did you get your start in running? What other sports did you compete in before high school? What were some of your track PRs before HS?
At the age of 4-5ish, I started running on a club team for fun and giggles because my older brother competed in the club and I wanted to run with him. I never got serious about my running until I was around 12-14 when I realized I was kinda good at something. Before high school I played football, I know surprising right. I was a running back and oddly left tackle for the Dublin Falcons before they changed their name to the Fighting Irish.

5) Looking back at your first three years in high school, what are some of your proudest achievements for yourself individually and for your team in both cross country and track and field?
From freshman year I managed to become an all American for the USATF Junior Olympics Cross-Country Championships which I had never done before. To sophomore year being on a top-ranked national xc team and making it to state in the 1600 as an underclassman. To Junior year placing on both the cross country state podium and the track state podium, all in all, being huge accomplishments for me that I always look back at and am proud of how far I have become.

6) During that time, your team has competed in both Divisions I and II. What do you feel is the biggest difference between the two divisions at the state meet?
The obvious one being the competition, from my experience the atmosphere and measure of seriousness was a total shock for me when we moved up to DI. There's a different sense of validation that goes into DI competition and its complex field of stacked runners every year. I feel that it gets more attention and there's more important on performing in each race in itself because succeeding in a DI race means a lot more.

7) Who is your coach and how has he helped you get to where you are today? What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from him?
Coach Chris Williams (file photo below) has coached me all of high school and has helped me through my troubles over the years being my anchor at school in a way. Coach Williams has helped me grow, change, and succeed through everything life has thrown at me. He has pushed me to be my best self and stay strong even on days I felt I couldn't go anymore. I don't know where I would be without him, because I owe part of my success to him, and am so grateful that I was blessed enough to get lucky to have him as my Coach. Overall I've learned to become a man, athlete, and persevering person because of him. And I wouldn't move schools even if I could, because I don't feel like anyone would give me as much support and understanding as he does. Thank you, Coach Williams!

8) Favorite cross-country invitational? Clovis Invitational.
Favorite cross-country course? Woodward Park.
Favorite cross-county workout? Tempos!!!
Favorite long run? Wednesday's 13-15 mile runs.
Favorite track and field invitational? Arcadia Invitational!!!
Favorite track and field event? Mile or 1600.
Favorite track and field workout? 400 repeats.
Favorite free time activity? Hang out with my friends and play brawl stars.

9) As you get closer to choosing what college to attend next year, what are the most important factors for you when it comes to choosing that school?
The most important factors for me in choosing a college are exceptional academics, great team dynamics; internal functionality as well as great performances.

10) If you had to recruit freshmen at your school to join the cross country and track and field teams, what would you say to convince them? Why should they join the teams?
I actually find myself in situations like this at my school, with kids from every class not just freshmen so, not only to freshmen I would tell anybody that they have a 1 of a kind opportunity to run for one of the greatest programs in all of northern California, where the people are great and so is the team. Our goal at Dublin is to help you achieve your goal in running. Make you ask yourself why you joined cross-country and what you want out of it, and how we can help you get the most out of it. If you join Dublin Cross Country you will reach success while having encouraging support right there with you the whole way through.

11) Anything else you would like to add.
Shout out to my mom for being the strongest woman out there I know! God never said it would be easy, he will never abandon you, have faith. Thank you so much for being my biggest supporter on and off the track. Always keeping me number 1 in your heart when nobody else would and giving me unconditional love. I don't know where I would be without you. Continue to stay strong and persevere and do what you do, you're doing awesome! Love you, mom!