All Access with Chris WessonTuesday, April 1 2008 - Chris Wesson
By: Scott Richey/Sports Editor
Eastern senior middle-distance runnerChris Wesson
is one of few seniors on the Panthers' men's track team. The Hampshire native sat down with Sports Editor Scott Richey to discuss the beginning of the outdoor track season, his friendly rivalry with teammate David Holm and why he's holding out hope for Dave Matthews tickets for his birthday.
How do you view your role on the team?
Pretty much the leadership as far as being a captain and being a senior, it's our job to pretty much direct the younger guys and the underclassmen to do the right things. Encourage them to do the right things. We can't tell them to do anything. Just encourage them to make the right decisions and give them tips about stuff that we've learned along the way. Give them advice when they're down and help them out when they need it.
Do the younger guys look up to you?
I hope so. My nickname is Granddad. I think to a certain point some of them do look up to me. Some of the younger guys last year when they first came in they were like "yeah we'll call you granddad." I was raised by my grandfather, so I don't take it as a bad
thing. I'll take it as a compliment.
Who is the biggest influence in your life?
My grandfather by far. I wouldn't have probably done track at all if it wasn't for him. I wouldn't have given it a try. I wouldn't be here today. I know that a lot of the things I do - especially being in school - is for him and because of him.
What was your reaction to getting second at the OVC Indoor Championships?
Every time we step on the track, especially in conference time, losing the conference is not a very good thing for us. A lot of teams are like congratulations on getting second. To us that's just as bad as losing or getting fifth. We use that big time as motivation. It kind of sucked because I know some of the younger guys coming in they really wanted to win right off the bat. It's just a lesson for them, and for me it was just feeling that pain again to lose. Just hope it doesn't happen again in outdoor.
What's the transition like from indoor to outdoor track?
Obviously, you've got to deal with the weather a lot more. Once again, it's trying to get back into the feeling of competing. You have time off with spring break and stuff like that, getting back in that competing mode. The transition, you feel like once you get outside you're going to run a lot faster; you hope you run a lot faster than you do indoors.
Do you prefer indoor or outdoor track?
Outdoor by far. It's more room on the straights for me to run. On a good day, it's nice being outside.
What's the key to your track success?
Just using my team especially the (800-meter) guys, and using them as a reason to go to practice every day and work hard. Knowing that it's not just for me, it's for them too. I know some of them are looking up to me.
What's it like to compete against David Holm?
Dave Holm is a great guy. When I first go here I was the No. 1 800 runner. To get a good guy like that - somebody either better than you or equal to you - it makes you realize how much harder you should work. If you're always on top you don't realize how much you're probably slacking. Once you have somebody that can push you, you realize you need to work a lot harder. It's nice to have somebody like Dave to push you along. Very friendly (rivalry). I give him a hard time. This indoor (season) he nudged me out. I was leading the whole race and the last couple of meters left he nudged me out at the line. I said, " You can't even give me that. I'm a senior you're supposed to let me have it." I guess I could look at it is I should just work harder.
Do you have a pre-race strategy?
I like to figure out what I'm going to run a couple days ahead of time, so I know what I'm practicing for, getting my mind ready for. Race day, watching everything I eat. That sucks. Pretty much usually when I get off the bus, or I get to the track if I have an 800, I'll run two laps and think about my laps. Pretty much try and stay as relaxed as possible.
Do you have any superstitions?
Used to be I always had to wear blue shoes. I like for my uniform to match, but my coach got me some orange and ugly black ones so I have to stick with those. As far as superstition wise, I don't really have any at all.
What is your proudest moment from your track career?
I have lots of them. Just winning that conference championship. I'm pretty proud that when coach asks me to step up to do stuff - run races - most of the time I'm able to do it. I'm pretty proud of that. Running at Notre Dame for our DMR.
What was high school football like?
(I played) running back, cornerback, kick returner (and punt returner). Football is really about the team. I loved the guys that I grew up with. Of course in high school, you started first grade, kindergarten growing up with those guys. You really get a close bond with them. I still talk to all those guys now.
What was your top moment from high school football?
When my dad came out to see me play for the first time. I got my first carry of the game and scored off the bat. That was pretty big moment for me. That was the first game my dad came, it was my senior year.
Who is your best friend on the Eastern track team?
I don't want to offend anybody. My best friend last year was my friend Travis. He's graduated. He's one of my best friends through everything. On the team today, probably Wes Sheldon or Brenton Emmanuel.
What is the relationship between the middle-distance runners?
Middle-distance guys that's what I take pride in. That's my pride and joy: those guys. I like the fact we don't talk bad about each other. Every time we go on the track our main goal is not to beat each other, it's to help each other along. We're really, really close. Most of us, we could all hang out every day together just like friends. That's one of the main things I'm happy about.
Do you go to any other Eastern athletic events?
When I'm not running, I'll go to a girl's rugby game and watch Molly, Sam, Crystal Jones and Amanda. I know most of those girls, and I'll watch them play. For me, rugby that's the real sport right there. Besides ultimate fighting and boxing, it doesn't get any rougher than that. I really like going to watch the guys play. The guys, they're serious. I saw a guy got his shoulder popped out of place. (He) popped it back in and was ready to go back in. That's real.
Why did you decide to run at Eastern?
Coach Akers is a really good coach and a really good guy. Once I talked to him, he gave me a very good offer that I couldn't refuse - to quote the Godfather there. Eastern was a smaller school. I wasn't trying to go to a bigger school.
What's your favorite band?
I'm a huge Dave Matthews fan. Today's my birthday and nobody got me Dave Matthews tickets yet, so I'm pretty pissed. I just love everything about Dave. People get freaked out when they hear a black guy singing Dave Matthews, but I like Dave. Dave is pretty much the best thing in music I think.
What are your favorite TV shows?
One of my favorite TV shows now is 'Nip/Tuck', and I like 'House' and 'My Name is Earl.' 'Nip/Tuck' just because it's so crazy, and I would love to have their life sometimes. 'My Name is Earl,' they push the fact of karma. I'm a big believer in karma. What goes around comes around. 'House,' the lead guy is hilarious.
What are your plans after graduation?
Probably when I'm done running the only kind of competition I'll probably be doing is I'll come back for the homecoming race. Outside of that, I'm probably going to hang up all my competitiveness, my spikes and stuff like that, and sit on the couch and get fat. Hopefully want to become a police officer - ever since I was little.
Scott Richey can be reached at 581-7944 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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