Story by Megan Lobdell, Big Sky Conference Media Relations
OGDEN, Utah - Junior Big Sky cross country athlete Tim Freriks, from Cottonwood, Ariz., took the time out of his schedule at Northern Arizona to answer some questions with the Big Sky Conference office. Tim talked about how he got started running, what made him choose NAU and his favorite place to eat in Flagstaff.
Last season at the championships in Cheney, Wash., Freriks finished sixth and earned BSC All-Conference honors and went on to place 41st at the Mountain Region and finished 144th at the NCAA Championships. In 2009, Freriks was 15th at the conference championships and finished 79th at Mountain Region.
As a team, NAU has won the last four conference titles and have 21 total titles. The Lumberjacks have won the last six individual titles with David McNeill (3), Lopez Lomong (2) and Jon Cardenas (1). Since 1994, NAU has never finished below second place. At the 2010 NCAA Championships, NAU finished ninth as a team.
Northern Arizona will compete Saturday at the Big Sky Conference Cross Country Championships hosted by Idaho State at the Centennial Course. The women's race will begin at 10 a.m. and the men will follow at 11 a.m. In 2002, which was the last time the championship was in Pocatello, Idaho, Northern Arizona finished second behind Montana State.
Tim Freriks and Northern Arizona will be competing Saturday at the Big Sky Conference Cross Country Championships hosted by Idaho State. NAU is looking for its fifth-straight conference title.
Q: How did you get started running, especially the long distances?
A: My dad was a marathoner when I was really young and was somebody that I really looked up to. I played a lot of soccer and basketball when I was younger and went out running with my parents on the weekends; it was just kind of something we did as a family. I slowly became familiar with the concept of doing better in sports when I was more aerobically fit, and I kind of became known as the kid that had a lot of endurance. In sixth grade I thought it was pretty awesome that running actually became a sport. So I went out for the cross country team and was hooked. I grew up in a small town and loved the places I was able to go when running, I just loved running the longer distances for the sense of accomplishment and the idea that the more time you put into this sport, the better the athlete you can become.
Q: What made you choose to go to Northern Arizona?
A: At Mingus Union High School we had a pretty small but successful distance program, and that was sort of something I looked for in an NCAA program. At Northern Arizona I found a group of guys that seemed more close-knit than any other program I was looking at and they were successful as a team because of that. The team wasn't huge or overwhelming, it was just a small group of guys that wanted to work like crazy to be the best they can be and I wanted to be a part of that. There is also something magical about Flagstaff for distance running, training here alone is such an amazing opportunity, but to have the opportunity to get an education and train here. It was impossible to turn down NAU.
Q: What have been some of your favorite memories at NAU?
A: Every time we have a workout in some adverse weather conditions it seems like we have some of the best workouts and longest-lasting memories. I remember doing mile repeats my freshman year in a blizzard, with mud and dirt flying up in all of our faces. We crushed the workout, and got a lot closer as a team because of it. Conveniently we often see conditions similar to that in the championship portion of the cross country season. Winning indoor conference by only a couple points freshman year after scoring four points in my first championship track meet in college was also a really gratifying experience. Making the trip to Terra Haute, (Ind.,) for nationals for the first time last year will also always be engrained in my memory. Every athlete on our team gave it their all, and it was so rewarding to know that you belong to one of the top programs in the nation and that your work ethic and determination produced something tangible – something that we all hope to achieve, but isn't always there.
Q: What are you expecting for this year's cross country championships?
A: Rumor has it that the course up in Pocatello is a tough one and I'm looking forward to that. The atmosphere at Big Sky's is always great and I'm expecting some great breakthrough performances from some of the guys on our team. Seeing our freshman compete is always something I look forward to also, as a lot of the time they progress a lot faster than the typical returning athlete. Chris Ganem and Caleb Hoover are both competing as true freshman for us, and it will be exciting to see how well they've developed over the course of their first cross country season.
Q: What are your personal goals for the championships?
A: This year I would really like to have nobody but teammates ahead of me in the individual scoring. Last year, Brett Hales of Weber State, Patrick Casey of Montana State, Kyle King of EWU, and Lynn Reynolds of Montana were in between myself and Dave (David McNeill) and Diego (Estrada) up front. Bettering my sixth-place finish from last year is the base-line goal, but it would be nice to be mixing it up at the front with my teammates. I know that Hales and Reynolds will make it a nice challenge for me at the championships.
Q: What are you team goals?
A: We want to bring home another Big Sky Championship title. It is always nice to set the championship part of the season in action with a solid finish at Big Sky's, and the momentum and confidence we gain from having solid performances at this meet are a crucial part of performing well at the Mountain Regional meet as well as at NCAA's.
Q: Tell us something we wouldn't know about you?
A: Something that you wouldn't know about me? I really like fixing things. That's not very interesting, but it's something I'll find myself wrapped up in from time to time. I just like improving things, working on my bike, keeping the car running well, that sort of thing.
Q: What has been your favorite place to compete at in the Big Sky?
A: Honestly I really do enjoy racing in the dome here in Flagstaff, and I think having the indoor championship meet here in Flagstaff will be a really cool experience. They had the championships here my senior year of high school and I came up to watch, and it was awesome. The fast mondo track, the spectators, all of it was a pretty memorable experience. Outside of the dome though, I really liked competing in Bozeman at Montana State my freshman year at NAU. The small, banked, four lane, mondo track made things pretty physical and tactical and it was different than anything I'd experienced before. The venue in their stadium was also really intimate and had me really excited to compete.
Q: What is your favorite place to eat in Flagstaff?
A: My favorite place to eat would have to be Oregano's, an Italian place in Flagstaff. I guess they have a few locations down in the Phoenix area too, so it's not an ultra-local restaurant or anything (if you're into that sort of thing then Diablo Burger would be the answer to this question), but I've never left Oregano's disappointed. Not to mention that if you're even a bit unsatisfied with being skipped on the waiting list and vocalize your concern, they'll hook you up with a free pizookie.
Q: If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
A: I'd love to go to some remote Caribbean island and relax for a week or two without worrying about school or other stressors, but I don't know that I'd get much out of an experience like that other than feeling unproductive for an extended period of time. I'd really like to go somewhere like Iten, Kenya and experience an entirely different culture. It's something us runners read about all the time, but I think it would be really awesome to see the inner-workings of a community like that. On a workout day, seeing a fartlek with 200+ runners all going at it with better competition than your average major marathon would be a trip.
Q: If you couldn't compete in cross country and track and field what sport would you do?
A: Ultimate Frisbee. I'd also advocate for it to become and NCAA sanctioned sport.
Q: If you could have dinner with three other people dead or alive who would they be and why?
A: I'd love to have dinner with my grandfather. He passed away when I was really young and my grandparents lived pretty far away so I didn't ever get to know him very well. He played baseball for UCLA though and got my dad interested in sports when he was young which ultimately got passed down to me. I guess the other two would be Bernard Lagat because I'm a huge fan, and Theodore Roosevelt, just for kicks.