Mineau: One Last Run For The Top

Oct. 27, 2008

by Will Hansen
Special for Gameday Magazine

The University of Washington Men's Cross Country team is ready to takeoff this season after missing some key components in 2007. The 2006team led by then-junior Jeremy Mineau (Menlo Park, Calif) finished 12th atNationals; their best finish in over a decade. Everything looked to be on therise for the Huskies until two stress fractures put Mineau, who was expectedto lead the team, out of competitive running for nearly two years. Forced toredshirt in 2007, Mineau is back for his senior season at full strength and theHuskies are looking to pick up where the 2006 team left off.

Before the injury, Mineau was considered one of the premier distancerunners in the NCAA; during the 2006 season he was voted first-team All-Pac-10and All-West Region honors. Mineau credited his grueling training regiment forhis success.

'I was coming off of some really great training, probably some of thebest training I had ever had,' he said.

In preparation for the season, Mineau ran 80 miles each week. Theroutine might have led to his success, but also may have caused the stressfracture in his lower back, which ended his track season. The injury forcedMineau into a four month stretch of no activity -- and that was even beforethe rehabilitation process began.

'It was a little crushing for me; when people were telling me that Iwould be in recovery for six months and not back to full-strength for a year,'remembered Mineau.

During his recovery, Mineau suffered a setback -- another stress fracturethat would complicate his comeback even more. The reoccurrence of theinjury left Mineau questioning whether or not he would be able to make areturn to collegiate running.

'When people are telling you that you are never going to be able to run80 miles a week again -- most high level distance runners are running 90 to110 miles a week -- and having someone suggest that you can only run 40miles in a week is a little crushing,' said Mineau.

In order to avoid suffering another injury, Mineau only runs 30 miles aweek. The combination of two season-ending injuries and having to lowerthe amount he runs in a week makes it hard to believe that Mineau wouldever be able return to the point he was two years ago. But, to this date, thenew training regiment has not adversely affected his results.

'Right now I'm running 30 miles a week, and my performances are aboutat the same level --which is interesting. Kind of surprising, but encouraging,'said Mineau.

After missing nearly two years, it would seem that coming back andtaking the leadership role on the team would be a difficult task for Mineau.But, with his veteran status and proven ability, it was a role that Mineau hasaccepted and shared with fellow veterans like seniors Jon Harding, CalebKnox and Austin Abbott.

'We have a fair amount of younger guys and a fair amount ofinexperienced guys, but the team definitely has a lot of leaders on it,' saidMineau. 'I would not consider myself the sole leader of this team. I wouldsay that we have three or four guys who at any moment can step up andtake control.'

With the locker room leaders in place, Mineau can take a step backfrom becoming the mental leader and focus on leading by example. Mineaubegan the season with top-10 finishes at Washington's first two meets --fifth at the Sundodger Invitational and fifth at the Auburn Tiger Invite.'I consider my finishes good, but there is definitely room forimprovement,' said Mineau.

It was an encouraging start for a runner and a team trying to make acomeback in a big way. This year's team has set the bar high. The 2006team was a veteran unit that peaked at just the right time, and this year'sgroup is trying to follow that blueprint.

'Honestly I think we have an equal, if not better chance this year to goand do what we want to do at NCAA's,' said a confident Mineau. 'I thinkthat's just because the people on this team are mature. We know what we'redoing, and most people have done it before. We trust in the training we'redoing and trust that it will come together at the end of the season.'

With such a promising start by Mineau and the team finishing first andsecond, respectively, at the Sundodger and Auburn Invitational, the team'sgoals look within reach. With the talent and leadership on the team, it is nothard to imagine the Huskies surpassing the 2006 team and accomplishingtheir goal of making a top-10 finish at the NCAA championships.

It is the goal that Mineau and his teammates now solely focus on. Notthe past injuries that caused so many difficulties in the recent years.

'In everyday training [the injury] does [enter my mind]. I sometimeswant to go out and run more, but I know I can't with this type of injury,' saidMineau. 'But it never enters my mind during a race. There is no room for it;during a race you put caution and safety to the side and run.'

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