The 5th-ranked UC San Diego women’s cross country team defeated Point Loma to open the 2006 season. The Tritons will use this season to gear up as host of the CCAA Championships on the UCSD campus in October. Junior Diane Dunn recently took time after practice to discuss the season and life as a member of the cross-country team. The Tritons are coming off their best season ever at the Division II level, placing seventh at the 2005 D-II National Championships. UCSD won the 2005 CCAA Championship in San Francisco.
Q- How did you spend your summer?
DUNN- I did a little of everything this summer. We have a pretty strict workout schedule over the summer. This summer I spent some time at home, and then came back and worked on campus. I work in the recreation department. I also hang out with my teammates as much as possible over the summer because it’s difficult to train on your own... and it’s fun being with my teammates.
Q- Has your role changed on this year’s team compared to last season?
DUNN- It has. I am captain this year so I have much more responsibilities to the team. I have to make sure I am in the best condition and taking care of myself in competition. I also have the responsibility of making sure my teammates are being great athletes and doing what they need to do to take care of themselves. It’s been a lot more work, but it has also been fun. I enjoy planning things for the team to do.
Q- Are you looking forward to any of the races on your schedule?
DUNN- I am looking forward to two races... four races when you include Regionals and Nationals. I’m looking forward to the Roy Griak Invitational in St. Paul, Minnesota. That’s our big travel trip this year. We spend some time in the town and I hear that the course is a fun one. I’m also looking forward to hosting our conference championships. It’s very exciting because we get a lot of support here.
Q- Has our cross country course changed this year?
DUNN- The parking structure being built has taken out one of our big downhills in the course. The trails have been worked on a lot and are taken care of now. The course is technical and a little difficult, but it’s an advantage to practice on it everyday.
Q- What do you like about head coach Ted Van Arsdale?
DUNN- He has tons of experience when it comes to coaching. He has a lot of wisdom to share with us all of the time. It really shows in how everything is set up down to the way he runs camp in Mammoth and how he has us practice everyday.
Q- What is a typical week like at practice, leading up to a race?
DUNN- Nothing slacks off. We will have two to three hard workouts a week with faster pace work or hills. We will do a long run, somewhere between an hour and an hour and a half. The day before the race we get an easier day, but for the week we get in all the miles and work.
Q- Are there any newcomers that are impressing you so far this season?
DUNN- There are quite a few. We have six newcomers, five freshmen and a transfer. We’ve seen a couple girls do very well. Marie (Schaper) was our top finisher in time trials. Jordana (Henderson) improved by about a minute and a half from the time trials to our last race. We are seeing a lot of impressive things from our newcomers.
Q- If you could play another collegiate sport, what would it be?
DUNN- I think it’d be fun to pole vault. I would like to play soccer too... although college soccer is a bit different than when I played soccer when I was five years old.
Q- Was it a difficult adjustment for you, transitioning from high school to college?
DUNN- A lot of it depends on the high school and cross country program that you come from. Schools that have less rigorous programs with coaches that are not quite so stern... it’s more difficult to make the transition to be a student-athlete here. But I came from a very serious high school program, so making the transition was not too difficult for me. The workload is a lot more and quicker here, but I came from a strict program.
Q- Why did you choose UCSD?
DUNN- When I was choosing schools, it came down to a few that were all equally ranked academically. I had met the coaches and some of the athletes on the team when I came down for a visit. I just really liked the feel of the team and I knew I could learn a lot from the coaches here as both a student and an athlete. I also love the campus. It was an easy decision.
Q- Are there other runners in your family?
DUNN- My dad likes to say that I got my running talent from him, but I like to think that I’m the only one who can run in the family. We have other athletes in my family, but none that really run competitively.
Q- What do you enjoy doing outside of running?
DUNN- I enjoy going to the beach and watching movies with my friends. I live with a couple girls on the team so we do a lot of activities together.
Q- What is your major?
DUNN- I am a Sociology major with a minor in Law and Society. I really enjoy both subjects, but am not sure what I want to do with it right now.
Q- Have you had a favorite out-of-state race?
DUNN- I’ve raced in Oregon, Pennsylvania and Indiana. I really enjoyed the race in Oregon. The course if very fast and fun. I also liked the Pennsylvania race because I have family there and they were able to see me run.