Getting to Know Graham Crawford
Oct. 31, 2013
Each week GoPack.com will catch up with a different member of the cross country team to find out a little more about them. Today, we sit down with Graham Crawford, a redshirt sophomore from Williams High School in Burlington, N.C.
Last year Crawford earned All-ACC honors and was named All-NCAA Southeast Region in his redshirt freshman season for the Wolfpack. In his sophomore campaign, he finished 4th overall at the Wolfpack Invitational to start the year and recorded the second-fastest time amongst NC State runners in his last race at the Wisconsin Invitational.
The course where the ACC Cross Country Championship is taking place (Beeson Park in Kernersville, N.C.), you ran there in high school, right?
"I ran it once in high school. The first time they used it as the state championship course was my senior year, so that was the only time I ran it."
How did you do?
"I won. I set the course record that day too. The conditions were really bad that day so hopefully it will be a lot easier to run this year."
What kind of course is it compared to what you ran at the Wisconsin Invitational or the Roy Griak Invitational?
"I think it's a lot flatter than the others. We did a workout there over fall break and it was just like I remembered it from high school. There were a couple inclines but they were not big enough to be called hills, just rhythm breakers. I don't think it is a very challenging course."
This year you have been running great. You're consistently the No. 2 guy on the team. What can you do to maintain that high level and perform your best in the ACC Championships?
"One big thing we are going to work on is just getting out more aggressively. We know we can close hard at the end. In the past, even if I have gone out aggressively I still have the closing speed at the end. So we are going to get out a little closer to the front. We will just go with the flow of the race and be in position."
At what age did you start to take running and cross country seriously?
"I started around freshman year of high school. I never ran competitively before that. I started taking it really seriously during my junior year of cross country season. Before that I was not a top guy on our team, so I was trying to help out the team and that year I became our top guy. The state of North Carolina started running faster, so I had to keep up with the improvement curve and just keep up my game from there."
Milliseconds matter in these races. How do improve your time?
"The big thing these past two years in college, I have just upped my mileage a little bit. In high school I would just run 50 miles a week, if that. In college I'm consistently in the eighties each week. All the little things, the stuff in the weight room, the stretching, all the little things that the coaches get us to do, that helps a lot."
Being from North Carolina, did you always want to come to NC State?
"I have been a State fan my whole life. When I started thinking about running in college I looked at N.C. State and saw the history of the program and I immediately thought it would be a perfect fit if they would recruit me."
Do you like the unpredictable environment of cross country when you run, or do you like the controlled environment of track and field?
"I like both, but I have a soft spot for cross country. When I first started running that was the first thing I was introduced to. I have always enjoyed the team aspect of cross country."
Did you compete in any another sports growing up?
"I played a lot of basketball. That was really the only real organized sport I played. We would get out and play soccer and football in the neighborhood, but the only organized sport I played was basketball until I started running."
Can you talk about the camaraderie of the team? You guys seem to have a lot of fun together.
"Andrew Colley is one of the guys who is really good on race day, He acts like a goofball everyday but he doesn't change on race day. He acts the exact same - laid back, really loose and relaxed. Everyone on the team has their days where they act like that. So it is a good mix."
How much time does the team spend together when you aren't running?
"We hang out everyday, we eat together, we hang out on the weekends. We pretty much do everything together. We go to football games sometimes. At the beginning of they year when we aren't racing, we set up tailgates and do that kind of stuff. Once we get into the middle of the season we are usually too exhausted to do that other kind of stuff."
Your day off is Sunday, how do you recuperate?
"Sunday is technically its called recovery day. Some of us still have to run more than five miles. If we do a run it has to be really relaxed, like a slower pace. If you've hit your goal, you can take it off completely. Usually if I do that, I just spend the whole day on the couch watching football."
When you are out there running a race, can you hear the fans yelling encouragement or are you in such a zone you can just block everything out?
"It gets to a point in the race where everything is blocked out. You can kind of hear everything going on at the beginning. Once you get to a certain point, you are just dialed in on it. It doesn't matter. We love having people there and late in the race it obviously helps having people there, but I'm usually so dialed in I don't even realize that they are there."
What are you majoring in here at NC State?
"I am a political science major. In high school I did an architecture program and I took four years of drafting and design courses there. When State was recruiting me, I was talking with assistant coach Chris Seaton about the architecture program and I thought if I didn't do that I would do some type of design. Ultimately, I didn't want to have to balance all the studio hours with the cross country hours, so I took a political science course my freshman year and it came real easy to me so I just decided to roll with that."
Any future political aspirations?
"Definitely not political, (laughs). I'm not sure I am just going to see what happens."