Chase Cayo, St. Michael-Albertville cross-country/track
Chase Cayo knows the exact moment when his high school cross-country career took off.
It was a few weeks ago in Duluth, on a cold and windy day and a wet course that had other runners slipping and sliding and wishing they were someplace else.
To the St. Michael-Albertville junior, it was like sunshine and 70 degrees.
“Like a hurricane, but it was good competition and that pushed me,” Cayo said of his Swain Invitational victory. “I felt really good running there. When I saw my time, 15:54, I thought, ‘This could be a big year.’ ”
Fresh off his Mississippi 8 Conference title — his third consecutive victory — Cayo talked with staff writer Jim Paulsen about his season of improvement.
Q: Are you surprised by your success this season or did you expect to have a good year?
A: A little bit of both, actually. Going into every meet, I always think about winning and try to visualize it, but actually getting out and doing it is kind of a shock.
Q: What were your expectations for this season?
A: I wasn’t expecting to be ranked or anything like that. I was just hoping to run under 16 minutes.
Q: How did you get started?
A: My mom made me join in middle school. I have her to thank for that. She thought it might help me get in shape for basketball, so I thought, “Why not?”
Q: Do you still play basketball?
A: Nope. After my freshman year in high school, I thought I had a chance to be good in running, so I gave it up. And everyone else grew taller than me.
Q: Is there a secret to your improvement?
A: A lot of it is because of [former St. Michael-Albertville runner] Brendan Sage. I looked up to him, and he showed me what to do. He pushed me and was a role model. Just like Brendan had Jake Autio to look up to when he was my age. And we have really good coaching. Gregg Greeno is a great coach.
Q: Do you still talk to Brendan?
A: He’s running at South Dakota State, but we call and we text all the time. When he comes back to visit, we keep in touch. He’s great at giving advice. He keeps trying to persuade me to go to South Dakota State.
Q: What is your training like?
A: I’m not a high-mileage guy. I think last summer, I ran around 225 miles, which is only about 25 miles more than I did last year. But I focused on getting better. I had long run days, short days, speed days. Pretty much everything.
Q: What is the longest you’ve ever run?
A: Thirteen miles, when our team brought the homecoming football from Buffalo to St. Michael. I didn’t feel real good after that.
Q: You also run track. Do you have a preference?
A: I love the team environment in cross-country, but I like track for the competition. Track gets me pumped up. I love the 1,600 meters.
Q: What would you say to someone thinking about going out for cross-country?
A: I know a lot of people are afraid, but I’m so glad I joined. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you finish a race, whether you win or PR or just do well.