Former Mounds View High School and Golden Gopher half-miler Trent Riter is an intriguing prospect in the 800 meter competition at the 2007 AT&T USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships which get underway today and run through Sunday.
The #2 800 man in Minnesota prep history at 1:49.30 who was an all-American at the Univeristy of Minnesota is sporting a new PR -- the 1:47.18 he ran to win his section of the Road to Eugene '08 Meet in late May -- and a renewed excitement for his prospects in the event.
Down the Backstretch traded e-mails with Riter recently about his season so far ...
DtB: What you think the key to your recent quick times has been? I talked with Steve Plascenia recently and he thought not being in the rigorous academic program you had been in was part of it.
Riter: The big thing for me is that I have made the decision to not leave anything to question. This is what I want to be doing right now and I'm taking it very serious and having a blast.
Coach Plasencia might have mentioned I was in graduate school for the fall semester. I found academia rewarding in its own way, but balancing training, a research project, and school work was just too much for me.
It was hard for me make the decision to quit school, but I was not happy and was sure I was making a huge mistake. I informed my advisor at the semester's end that I would no longer be able to continue on with the program. Focusing on my training alone has allowed me to pay more attention to detail and work on a lot of little things which tend to add up.
DtB: I understand you're working with your father as coach now. What does he know about you and the 800 that makes for a successful coach/athlete team?
Riter: My father was my high school coach and that relationship worked quite well then so I thought why not give it a try after college. Going to college at the University of Minnesota made it a bit easier for my dad to follow my collegiate career. He knows all the struggles I had with injuries along the way and definitely believes in me the most. I think my dad would agree that we are very blessed to be able to have such a special father-son relationship.
DtB: I'm guessing you do a lot of your training alone ... is that difficult? Have you thought about joining a training group?
Riter: I do a lot of my training alone with the exception of a run with my roommates on my easy days. I am quite used to it and have not found it all that difficult. It would be nice to have a training partner for the base building portion of training and day-to-day conditioning work, but I feel like I'm pretty good at pushing myself. I tend to be subconsciously competitive in training group environments. Our track workouts are very specific to the individual as well, so it would be hard to have a partner on the exact same plan, but not out of the question.
There are very few training groups for middle distance runners out there. I've thought about joining a group but I would hate to lose what I've got going for me now and enjoy working with my dad. Traveling to Eugene a couple times this spring has made it evident that there are much greater opportunities when associated with a group, but right now I just couldn't imagine changing things up too much. I have an amazing support group here in Minneapolis as well.
DtB: What's the goal for USAs ... or what's a goal you don't mind talking about?
The goal for US Champs is to make the final. If you're in the final, who knows what can happen.
We'll be in Indy ... Join Down the Backstretch this weekend for coverage of the USA Outdoor Championships -- and the USA Junior Championships -- from Indianaplis. We'll have quotes and splits and descriptions for the Minnesotans competing for a chance to run on the USA team at the World Track and Field Championships in Osaka, Japan in August.