David Torrence - Going the Distance

Oct. 31, 2007

By Will Moine, Daily Cal Staff Writer
This story was originally published in the Daily Californian on Wednesday, October 31, 2007. Click here for original version.

Reprinted by permission.

As the pack of the No. 8 Cal men's cross country team loops its way around yet another lap at Edwards Stadium, junior Mark Matusak leans over to senior David Torrence.

'David, I bet I could beat your slow *** on Saturday,' says Matusak.

Torrence, feeling his competitive juices flowing, takes no time to fire back.

'Mark,' he says with a grin, 'when was the last time you beat me in anything?'

The two take off, sprinting past the rest of the team.

While trash-talking among teammates is considered taboo in many sports, for Torrence, it is anything but.

'It's something I learned at my high school. We would all talk **** to each other as motivation,' says Torrence. 'Some guys would take the criticism poorly but Matusak, (junior Matt) Miller, and me, we all went to Loyola and we feed off it, it makes us hungry.'

This hunger seems to have carried over to the rest of the team this season as the men placed fifth overall in the Pre-NCAA Invitational on Oct. 13. The Bears' fifth-place finish helped the men achieve their highest ranking in school history, No. 8 in the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll.

However, the road to success has been long and difficult for Torrence, the leader of the team and the pacemaker for the Bears in every team race so far this year.

As a freshman, Torrence was immediately exposed to the freedoms of college, something he was not prepared for coming out of Loyola High, a Catholic, all-boys school back home in Los Angeles.

'Back in high school, I lived a very regimented lifestyle. I had track twice a day most days of the week and then on weekends I either had track meets or I caught up on homework I missed during the week,' says Torrence. 'Or I caught up on sleep on the weekends.'

Once the reins were loosened, however, Torrence's grades dropped and he was dismissed from school after his freshman year.

'He kind of stopped using his resources and he thought he could just get away with being an athlete here at Cal,' says coach Tony Sandoval.

Out of school, Torrence realized he had to put things in perspective.

'It was embarrassing being kicked out of school, really, I treated it as a learning experience--you need a degree to do anything in life and that's not really something I considered before,' says Torrence.

Working his way through Vista Community College, Torrence had to stay an extra year there getting his grades up as he dealt with family problems that required him to shuttle back and forth across California nearly every weekend.

In the end, Torrence treated his troubles with academics as a maturation process.

'All that stuff I had to go through, it taught me a lot and it made me a better, more mature person,' says Torrence. 'I really feel that I'm a better leader because of it.'

Torrence's fellow Bears runners agree that he has benefitted from his growing pains, calling him the leader of the 'band of brothers,' sophomore Michael Coe's nickname for the team.

'After getting kicked out of school, David learned that he needed to take responsibility,' says Coe. 'He is the most dedicated, hardest working guy out there every single day. We all just try to follow what he does.'

Junior Yosef Ghebray agrees with the notion that Torrence is the spark plug of the team, getting them started at the beginning of the season and before every race.

'Right at the end of the summer, David really got going and got all of us excited and pumped up for the season,' says Ghebray. 'He hasn't stopped since then.'

Torrence even believes his troubles have made him a better runner, even though he missed an entire season of eligibility.

'By focusing on my academics more now, I have learned time management and balance, which helped me focus on my training even more and made me work harder in the offseason,' says Torrence.

Though known for having the biggest mouth on the team, Torrence says only assistant coach Chris Coffee takes offense to the intrasquad taunting, often telling them to knock it off because they're teammates.

However, Coffee may not have to worry about the trash talking if the Bears continue with the success they've had so far this season.

'Now that we're doing well this year and running with other teams, we aren't racing with ourselves anymore, we're racing to beat people,' says Torrence. 'Now we're talking trash to other teams.'

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