Austin Vancil: Dakota Ridge To Colorado


Austin Vancil's Best Marks

1,600 - 4:21

3,200 - 9:22

5k - 14:48


Q) Talk about the recruitment process - what other schools were you looking at, and how did you come to choosing the University of Colorado?

So, my recruitment process wasn't that extensive or crazy. I was contacted by a lot of schools, but ended up only visiting Colorado School of Mines and the University of Colorado because both had national caliber engineering schools and long distance running programs. I also was in some contact with the University of Portland but for the most part I knew I wanted to stay in Colorado, so I didn't try many other options. School of Mines had a great program and Coach Siemers had clearly done a lot to develop it into a DII powerhouse; but for me it just felt a little too close to home and I wanted to be surrounded by other types of students not just engineers. During my visit at CU I realized just how much it really worked for me, Coaches Wetmore, Burroughs and Nelson were all super nice and they clearly know how to build an elite level team. They cater to each athlete individually and I felt very comfortable with the thought of them developing my training. The team culture is especially strong and they all seem to be very close, which was a big factor for me.

Q) What do you plan to study at Colorado?

I will be entering the Engineering School and I will most likely be majoring in Mechanical Engineering.  

Q) You went from 17:31 5k at NXR Southwest your freshman year to 14:48 (NXR Southwest) this year, talk about what you did to continue improving drastically each year.

Honestly it never would have crossed my mind that I would have run that fast by my senior year. I still remember watching Paul Roberts and Isaac Green run sub 15 at NXR my freshman year and I was just blown away. So it wasn't a story of me setting my mind to do it by senior year, but more of just wanting to progress. In fact my goal freshman year was to run low 16's by senior year like the seniors on my team had when I was a freshman. I don't think I did anything special I just put in the work everyday, listened to what my coaches told me to do and had fun with it. I made sure by body was always healthy and I never ran too much. Honestly if I had committed my freshman year to break 15 by senior year and only focused on that I would have driven myself insane. It takes time but I knew that as long as I put in the work, stayed confident in my ability to improve and lived my life like normal, I was sure good things were gonna happen and thankfully they did. The big takeaway for me and what I hope others can learn is that improvement is more than PR's. A lot of people seem to only focus on times while race experience and determination can be some of the most important things you learn from any race, good or bad.

Q) Talk about the experience of qualifying for NXN individually your senior year - and with your team.

The dream of NXN really started on December 2nd, 2017. I remember sitting on my couch at home with our coach Stenny, Ben Piegat, Ben Morrin and my parents as we watched Mountain Vista take 3rd in Portland. I had always known what NXN was but it wasn't until that moment when I realized what was possible for us, when I saw a team I had competed against do that well, and I didn't see as too far from us in ability. I was nervous for the next 350 days since I knew we seniors only had one more shot. I knew I had a chance individually but having the entire team there was a whole different feeling. Getting the team to NXN and sharing such an experience with the guys that you've been working so hard with is one of the most unbelievably rewarding experiences I've ever had. We went in completely blind, none of us ever having raced a meet bigger than NXR. I think our inexperience worked to our advantage as we didn't know where to be so we just ran and held on. We are still kicking ourselves about being one point off Great Oak for second, but you can't be too disappointed about a 3rd place finish at NXN.  

Q) What event do you see yourself focusing on at Colorado?

I've always had a soft spot for cross country, it's where I got my start and it's what got me to love running. So obviously that will be a big part of my career but I also like the longer distance stuff on the track. I have some speed but I would definitely consider myself a 3200m guy over an 800m guy so the longer events will most likely be my future.

Q) Could you share any goals you have for the upcoming track season?

I have a lot of goals but I've told myself to strive for the more obtainable ones first and let the other ones hopefully come with time. I'd say my primary goal is to chase our school's 3200m record set by Evan Appel at a 9:07. I know that with all the high level competition in Colorado I will not be short of opportunities at the record so the result lies solely in my ability to perform that day. Connor Ohlson and I are also both chasing Evan's 4:15 school mile record, something I refuse to let him get first.

Q) What would your favorite high school moment be (so far)?

That's a tough one. From an overall experience standpoint there isn't much that can compare to NXN. Just being able to be a part of the race and the experience was surreal; on top of that getting 3rd as a team was so special and rewarding. I think the best part was we acted like normal and just had fun with it. We tried to organize a relay race around the hotel with other athletes (got shut down by Nike officials), we played spikeball at Nike Campus with the boys from Mountain Vista and we wore suits on the plane. Nothing changed in our goofy behavior to signify that we were at a national meet. However in terms of a single day or moment, winning the State championship with so many teammates, teachers, friends and family there to support us was an amazing feeling of accomplishment. We had all agreed that while NXN was the big experience we all wanted to have, winning State was our first trial and ultimately the one we had been chasing all along. With our girls team there being as loud and supportive as they could, we managed to take our first title in 12 years and secure our dream.