Sophomore Elena Inouye
has continued to improve upon her impressive freshman season, helping the UC
San Diego women’s cross country team to a second place finish during the California
Collegiate Athletic Association Championships in Mckinleyville on October 24. The
Torrance, Calif. Native finished at 23:45.1 to place 19th at the
CCAA Championships two weeks ago, marking her fourth top-20 finish of the 2009
season. Inouye got ready for her showing at the conference championships with a
strong performance at the Triton Classic, where she was the second UCSD runner
to finish, placing 13th overall in this event for the second year in a row with
a final time of 22:58.1. “Elena has been a real key racer for us this year,
both on and off the course,” said Head Coach Nate Garcia. “The progress she has
made during the season has really helped us take the step to the next level.” Inouye
shed some light on her progress as a UCSD student-athlete on the cross country
team before leaving to San Francisco for the NCAA West Regional Championships
Q: What are your
thoughts on your personal and the team’s performance at the CCAA Championships
in McKinleyville last weekend? How do you hope to continue momentum heading
into the NCAA Division II West Regionals?
I was unhappy about my race at Conference, the team’s performance definitely
overshadowed my personal race. Getting 2nd place was quite exciting!
In talking with my teammates, I feel that we took so much more than just our
placing. We were all able to pick out areas where we knew there could be
improvement. Going into Regionals with that awareness of our weaknesses and the
confidence that we can make those changes sets us up for success.
Q: In 2008, you were
named CCAA Freshman of the Year after finishing 18th overall with a time of
23:12.4. How important was earning Freshman of the Year honors last season?
INOUYE: It was
quite a surprise, but it definitely boosted my confidence.
Q: Do you set
personal goals for yourself at the beginning of each season? What goals did you
have prior to the 2009 season?
talks with each of us individually during the summer to set goals for the
season. This year my main focus is to minimize the gap time between me and [UCSD
cross country teammate] Bre [Schofield]. I want to be within 30-45 seconds
Q: What impact has
Coach Nate Garcia had on you since joining the UCSD cross country team? How has
he helped your development as a runner?
INOUYE: Nate has
helped me gain a better understanding of myself. I’ve shared a couple of conversations
with him that have made me think about my beliefs and how they influence my
actions and interactions with others. I’m grateful that he’s approachable and
eager to offer advice in becoming not just a more mature runner, but a more
mature person as well. Under his guidance and training sequences I have
developed into a stronger runner than I was in high school.
Q: Can you describe
the UCSD cross country team dynamic and how it has helped you improve your own
INOUYE: It’s an
interesting balance between work and play. During workouts we sometimes laugh
and crack jokes, yet we don’t mess around to the point where we struggle to get
our work done. I think the balance is why I enjoy being on the team so much.
It’s not so serious and intense that you forget to enjoy the sport. Running is
still my stress reliever, not stress causer.
Q: In high school,
you competed as both a member of the cross country and basketball teams. In
what way has your high school basketball experience helped you during your
cross country career?
school basketball made me realize that I definitely belong out running on a
course rather than up and down a court. I sat on the bench for most of my
short-lived high school basketball career, and when I did play I would be so
nervous about messing up that I didn’t particularly enjoy playing.
Q: Describe your most
memorable racing experience.
the 5k during the CCAA Track and Field Championships last year. Each lap I kept
switching places with this one girl—it felt like a battle of who was mentally
tough enough to stick it out. And then a little over halfway through, she gave
up. I didn’t PR or score, but I was so happy afterwards because I felt engaged
and focused throughout the whole race.
Q: Do you listen to
music to get pumped before a big race? What’s on your iPod right now?
INOUYE: Yes I do!
On my iPod right now is “Wedding Dress” by Matt Nathanson & Owl City’s Ocean Eyes album. But before races, “Oh
Go” by The Pack pumps me up like no other.
Q: Can you tell us
something the average fan wouldn’t know about cross country?
someone who is only two steps in front of you is a LOT harder than it looks. So
when you yell at us to go faster… it may not look like it, but we’re really
Q: What was your
biggest motivation for coming to UC San Diego?
INOUYE: The solid
Cross Country and Track & Field programs and the strong science education I
Q: Aside from cross
country, what is your favorite UCSD sport to watch?
volleyball or basketball. Both are exciting!
Q: What is the reason
you initially started competing in cross country? What does it mean to you to
be competing at the collegiate level?
INOUYE: My third
grade teacher saw me keeping up with the boys when we’d run during PE and
suggested that I try out for cross country. I think she was just being nice,
but I joined in high school and fell in love with it. I feel so blessed to be
competing at the collegiate level. God has given me this amazing opportunity to
fully maximize my talents. From improving my racing skills and sharpening my
mental toughness to enjoying the close bonds with teammates and discovering
more about myself, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything!
Q: You are a
Chemistry major in Revelle College. What has been your favorite class at UCSD
so far and why?
sounds super nerdy, but CHEM 6BL. It was a ton of work and super stressful, but
I really enjoyed making crystals and watching the titration solution turn a
pink rose color. It was my first time being in an actual lab, so it had that
fascination factor as well.
Q: How have your
aspirations to become a nutritionist influenced your training and preparation?
aspirations have made me curious as to why we need certain foods and vitamins
and how they affect performance. I’m definitely more health conscious of what I
eat because of what I have learned.
Q: Which member or
members of the UCSD cross country team do you look up to the most? Which member
of the team makes you laugh the hardest? Who would you say has the best fashion
INOUYE: Nina Su’s
attitude and actions reflect her strong faith in God, and she just glorifies
Him in everything she does. It’s amazing and something I truly admire. And Bre
Schofield’s determination and tough mentality is incredible. That girl does not
back down. Her drive to excel in this sport inspires me to work hard.
Our whole team is pretty funny, but Caprice [Thompson]’s
laugh is the most infectious. I can’t help but laugh when I’m around her. And
last but not least, Marie [Schaper] has a stylin’ sense of fashion that is
Gossip Girl worthy!
Previous Q & A Articles
David Morton (Men's Water Polo) October 28, 2009
Juan Pablo Carillo (Men's Swimming) October 19, 2009
Sara Spaventa (Women's Soccer) October 10, 2009
Karen Reis (Women's Volleyball) October 2, 2009
Daniel Pavitt (Men's Soccer) September 23, 2009
Daniel Anderson (Cross Country) September 11, 2009
Peter Gresham (Men's Water Polo) September 2, 2009
Alexia Zatarain (Women's Soccer) August 24, 2009
Elaine Chen (Women's Volleyball) August 12, 2009
Jared Kukura (Men's Soccer) July 30, 2009
Dawn Lee (Former Women's Soccer Standout) July 8, 2009
Rob Mamula (Director of Athletic Performance) June 18, 2009
Garrett Imeson (Baseball) June 8, 2009
Leon Baham (Men's Track & Field) May 21, 2009
Kristyn Lesovsky (Softball) May 8, 2009
Kazumi Negishi (Men's Tennis) May 5, 2009
Laiah Blue (Women's Track & Field) April 16, 2009
Ryan Andre (Men's Crew) April 2, 2009
Josh Tanner (Baseball) March 24, 2009
Anju Shimura (Women's Swimming) March 7, 2009
Stephanie Bocian (Women's Water Polo) February 20, 2009
Lauren Chastain (Softball) February 5, 2009
A.J. Maulhardt (Men's Basketball) January 28, 2009
Annette Ilg (Women's Basketball) January 22, 2009
Steven Hardy (Men's Swimming) January 13, 2009
Frank Fritsch (Men's Volleyball) January 5, 2009
Kendall Bohn (Women's Swimming) December 22, 2008
Kelvin Kim (Men's Basketball) December 15, 2008
Michelle Osier (Women's Basketball) December 5, 2008
Sylvia Schmidt (Women's Volleyball) November 7, 2008
Denny Harper (Men's Water Polo Head Coach) October 17, 2008
Ron Larsen (USA Volleyball Assistant Coach) October 13, 2008
Jessica McGovern (Women's Soccer) October 6, 2008
Bre Schofield (Cross Country) September 26, 2008
Tony Fernandez (Men's Soccer) September 18,2008
Kimberly Carpenter (Women's Volleyball) September 12, 2008
A.J. Kotanjian (Men's Water Polo) September 2, 2008
Peter Akman (Men's Soccer) August 21, 2008
Natasha Belak-Berger (Women's Soccer) August 15, 2008
Jake LaVieux (Men's Cross Country) August 8, 2008
Dr. Penny Rue (Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs) July 30, 2008
Michelle Torres (Women's Volleyball) July 15, 2008
Jon Pascale (Men's Soccer Head Coach) July 1, 2008
Julie Ertel (Athletics) June 16, 2008
Clint Allard (Men's Basketball) June 9, 2008
Jen Myers (Women's Crew) May 27, 2008
Casey Ryan (Men's Track and Field and Men's Basketball) May 21, 2008