2020, the year Zoom interviews became a thing. We did quite a few of them here in CA, as did editors across the MileSplit national network.
Below is a sampling of 20 interviews, most of them conducted by MileSplit California editor Jeffrey Parenti. We also pulled a couple conducted by MileSplit National Editor Cory Mull.
As we say good-bye to 2020, we thank those who spent time allowing us to share their stories on this platform.
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PAIGE SOMMERS - CA RECORD-HOLDER ON COLLEGE CHOICE, TRAINING, AND MORE
Westlake High senior Paige Sommers discusses her decision to sign with Duke in an interview conducted Nov. 11, 2020, the first day of the National Letter of Intent signing period. Sommers, the top girls pole vault recruit in the U.S., selected Duke over Stanford, Michigan, Washington and Georgia among a reported 18 schools that made offers to the California record-holder. Last February, just as the 2020 outdoor season was getting underway, Sommers cleared 14-6 at the Thousand Oaks Invitational to set a CA State Record.
Her clearance is the highest ever by a junior in high school and now ranks fifth all time in high school history.
While the CIF outdoor season was lost to the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, Sommers was able to compete in open competitions this summer, where she cleared 14-0 in June and 14-1 in July.
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JOHN LESTER - ON COLLEGE CHOICE, 800m GOALS, OLYMPIC DREAMS
John Lester, a rising senior at Amador Valley HS (NC), in a wide-ranging interview, discusses, among the topics:
- His long-range goal of qualifying for the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 800 meters
- Plan to reach the 1:46.00 Olympic Trails qualifying standard
- Perseverance through the coronavirus pandemic-forced shutdown of the 2020 CIF outdoor season to run mile and 800m personal records while scrambling to find competition
- Process toward the goal of breaking Michael Granville's nation record in the 800m (1:46.45)
- Schedule challenges of the revised State CIF 2020-21 athletic calendar
- Importance of visualization in training and race preparation
- Influence of his coach, Jason Oswalt.
In the interview, John pinpoints his heat in the 2019 Dublin Distance Fiesta as a watershed race in his development in the 800m. Link to that race.
Also, as a sophomore, John made the 800m final at the 2019 CIF-State Meet. Here's the link to watch that race.
MORE ABOUT JOHN
Other race links:
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SEAN BROSNAN - NEWBURY PARK (SS) XC/TF COACH
Interview with Sean Brosnan conducted Sept. 28, 2020 in advance of the Newbury Park Athletic Club's trip to the Phoenix area to compete in the Desert Twilight XC Festival. In 2019, Brosnan coached both the boys and the girls to CIF-State Division II titles and the boys to a narrow victory over Great Oak for the team national title. In this interview, Brosnan says the 2020 version of his boys team is better than the 2019 version that included perhaps the best 1-2 punch in state history in Nico Young and Jace Aschbrenner. Brosnan discusses the development of the boys team, status of the girls team, and challenges to coaching during the COVID-19 shutdown that began in mid-March.
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JACQUI DUARTE - CIF-STATE 1600m CHAMP ON COLLEGE CHOICE, INJURY RECOVERY
The guest in our latest Catching Up With ... interview is Jacqui Duarte, a senior at Chino Hills High (SS), who is the defending CIF-State champion at 1600m on the track and recent USC commit. Jacqui is a two-time CIF-Southern Section Division I champion for 1600m and also was a double CIF-SS champion as a sophomore in 2019, also winning the 800m. Duarte, an elite soccer player, suffered a torn ACL in the fall of 2019 that required months of rehabilitation. In our interview, she talks about the injury, her recovery, her current state of fitness, and the long road to getting back on the track.
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DOUG SOLES - GREAT OAK (SS) XC/TF COACH
Interview with Great Oak cross country/track and field coach Doug Soles conducted Sept. 26, 2020, in advance of the South Temecula Track Club's trip to the Phoenix area for the Desert Twilight XC Festival. Soles, who has guided the Great Oak XC teams to a combined 14 CIF-State Division I titles and the boys to one national team title and runner-up spots each of the past two years, is bullish on this year's teams despite loses on both sides via graduation and departures. The boys team, in fact, turns over all but one regular from 2019s top seven but Coach Soles is quick to remind that his team won the CIF-Southern Section Division 1 title last November while running the Wolfpack B team. Depth has always been a staple of the Great Oak program, especially on the boys side. The girls return a strong group of rising sophomores as well as UC Davis-bound senior Brianna Weidler. In this interview, Soles discusses the development of his team, outlook for Desert Twilight, and challenges of coaching during the COVID-19 pandemic that has kept CIF sports shut down since mid-March.
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BELLA WITT - ON COLLEGE COMMITMENT, TRAINING AND MORE
The next guest in our Catching Up With ... series is Calabasas High senior hurdler Bella Witt. On the day of her college announcement, Witt joins Jeffrey Parenti for a 1-on-1 interview to discuss her college choice, growing up in track, literal hurdles along the way, future goals, and much more.
MORE ABOUT BELLA
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SADIE ENGELHARDT - VENTURA 8TH GRADER ON AAU RECORD SUCCESS
MileSplit sat down recently with AAU National champion Sadie Engelhardt, 13, who won both the 1,500m and 3,000 meter races at the AAU Junior Olympic Games in August. Sadie briefly details her history getting into the sport, her experience over the last few years and breaks down just what went down in her championship races a few weeks ago. Engelhardt, an eighth grader in Ventura, set a 14-year-old AAU national record in the 1,500m, producing a personal best time of 4:34.10. She also won the 3,000m in 10:05.
MORE ABOUT SADIE
- Deep Dive Into Her AAU National Record
- Golden Moments for Californians At AAU JOs
- AAU 1500m Record Run (video)
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ASHLEY CALLAHAN - CIF-STATE CHAMPION ON POLE VAULT SUMMIT VICTORY
CIF-State pole vault champion Ashley Callahan of Rancho Bernardo (SD) High, talks about her victory at the 2020 National Pole Vault Summit in Reno, among other topics in this interview conducted during a workout video shoot at North County Pole Vault, her training club.
MORE ABOUT ASHLEY
- Pole Vault Summit Recap Article
- What's Cool About The Pole Vault (video)
- Post-Competition Interview In June
- Workout Wednesday Feature
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PAIGE SOMMERS - CA POLE VAULT RECORD (PART 1)
Westlake High junior Paige Sommers broke the California high school record in the girls pole vault with a 14-feet, 6-inch clearance on Saturday (Feb. 22) at the Thousand Oaks Lancer Invitational. Sommers' clearance ranks No. 2 in U.S. high school history, is the best ever by a 16-year-old and also by a high school junior.
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JAMAR MARSHALL - STATE 110m HURDLES CHAMPION TALKS RECORD RUN
In this installment in the Jamar Marshall Stories series, the senior at Stockton St. Mary's High talks about the USATF U20 Championships in June (2019) where, competing in the 110-meter hurdles final in a field of college athletes, Marshall posted a wind-legal 13.22. That time ranked as a record for a California high school hurdler as well as the No. 3 performance by a high schooler in U.S. history.
MORE ABOUT JAMAR
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COLE SPROUT, LEO DASCHBACH - ON SUB-4 MILE RUN AT QUARANTINE CLASICO
MORE ABOUT LEO'S HISTORIC RUN
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BROTHERS KYLE AND GARRETT BROWN - AT BIG RED BARN POLE VAULT MEET
Kyle Brown, a redshirt junior at UCLA who prepped at La Costa Canyon (SD), oozes passion and emotion for the sport. His younger brother, Garrett Brown, a junior at La Costa Canyon, hit his PR of 16-6 and broke Kyle's's meet record at the Mt. Carmel Field & Distance meet, the last meet before the shutdown.
At the Vaulter Magazine Big Red Barn Pole Vault Meet, Kyle appeared as energized when Garrett -- whom he helps coach -- equalled his PR as he was frustrated with himself when he failed to clear 17 feet.
MORE ABOUT GARRETT
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MATT STRANGIO - ON LAST HIGH SCHOOL RACE
Graduating Jesuit (SJ) High senior Matt Strangio talks with MileSplit National Editor Cory Mull about his last high school race before shutting it down for the summer and heading off to the University of Portland. Strangio closed out his stellar high school career with two CIF-State Division I titles in cross country and CIF-State 1600m and 3200m titles on the track.
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SEVEN MORE INTERVIEWS TO CHECK OUT:
- Mia Barnett - On Mile PR at Arizona meet and challenges during COVID shutdown.
- Doug Bouma - Vaulter Magazine Executive Editor and Producer of Big Red Barn Pole Vault Events
- Caelyn Harris - CIF-State long jump champ talks win at North Texas Jumps Showcase, training.
- Brooke Secreto - CIF-State XC champion talks college choice, perseverance through shutdown.
- Thomas Valles - McFarland High star runner in 1987 and now the school's girls XC coach.
- Camden Wheeler - Sacramento area sprinter on college choice, training and goals.
- Sean Zeitler - Santa Margarita coach sat down with Mark Gardner for this engaging conversation.