Senior Swan Song: Luke Tichi

Name: Luke Tichi

School: Durango High School

Q) What was your most memorable race/throw/jump/vault/moment?

For me, this has to be last year's 4x800 at State. After placing sixth the year prior and returning all four guys, it was special to see everything fall into place at exactly the right time a year later. The three other guys were seniors at the time and watching them come through was special.

I still remember watching our 2nd leg (Noah Bodewes) bring us from maybe third or fourth to first with a sizable gap before he handed off to me. I don't think I ever expected to be running completely on my own at that point in the race. Being able to do that-and with that fun group-was a truly unique and memorable experience.

Q) Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

I can point out two different groups for this answer. Last year, as a Junior, when I started to focus on running, our boys' team was really strong; getting to train and compete with them regularly was undeniably helpful and fun.

As of more recently though, now that a majority of that group graduated, I would like to say that the Colorado distance crowd - the individuals that everyone in Colorado knows of, and the people on their tails-have pushed me to be a better runner.

With the internet and social media, I think Colorado runners have collectively pushed each other to improve. It's a cool environment. Even if these runners don't personably know me, being able to race them and watch them race has fueled my own desire to improve.

Q) What was your greatest accomplishment?

Last fall, as a whole, was a huge leap for me. As a Junior, I ran off and on-never with consistent training out of season. After last track season though, I committed to putting in routine work. That summer progressed quite nicely, training-wise.

Unfortunately, an injury during the first week of XC sent me to the pool and elliptical for almost a month. During that time, I was also competing for our high school golf team and I believe that it would have been all too easy for me to fall back on that sport while letting running slip away.

Thankfully, I stayed persistent and eventually returned to consistent running/racing by the end of September. Being able to eventually pull it together as well as have a pretty successful season is definitely one of my bigger accomplishments.

Q) If you could do it all over again what would you change about your career in high school?

I would have enjoyed picking up running sooner. While I'm sure that my delayed start has helped me in some ways, I think it would have been enjoyable to have more years of racing at the high school level in Colorado. Being able to compete in this state is something I'm grateful for.

Q) What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

Juggling XC with golf. It's silly that one of my most difficult obstacles in running has been self-imposed, but it's definitely been a struggle. While golf on its own isn't too taxing, trying to do that as well as run decently was somewhat tricky.

There were weeks where I would have a 2-day tournament (Monday/Tuesday) followed by a race somewhere else that Saturday. Managing school, running, golf, sleeping, etc. was quite a handful when weeks like these went on in succession for nearly two months.

On top of that, by living in Durango, most drives would range from 2-7 hours (one-way) to get to the race/tournament. I'm just glad I've made it through in one piece...

Q) What will you miss the most?

I will likely miss the constant chaos that I mentioned above. Yes, it's obviously hectic, but in the end, it's always been worth it. I will miss the long bus rides to Denver where we get to the hotel at 1 a.m., the occasionally disorganized races where we accidentally warm up an hour early, and the scrambled workouts on the track as we avoid the bumbling soccer team standing on the track while simultaneously dodging lacrosse balls being hurled chaotically on the field. I believe this spontaneity (as well as the obvious hard work) is what makes running XC and track so enjoyable.

Q) What advice would you give to younger athletes?

Don't be hesitant to chase what you want. It's probably too easy to fall into a rut where your ambition takes the backseat to trivial happenings. Finding a passion to chase (or two, or three) will inevitably lead to exciting places. Oh, I'd also advise anyone to keep running. It's probably worth it.

Q) What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

In Durango, we've recently been through a whirlwind of coaches. It's a shame that it's been that way, but I think this has taught many of the runners here a lesson in resilience. Obviously, there are pros and cons to these transitions. I feel that all of the coaches have shown us a variety of approaches to running and training. If anything, this process has given me an appreciation for coaches and all that they do (upfront and behind the scenes). I aspire to keep this appreciation with me in the future.

Q) What are your college plans?

I'm currently intending to run XC and Track at Williams College. I will likely be studying/majoring in Computer Science.

Q) Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

To last year's boys' team: Thank you for inspiring me to put down those silly golf clubs and come run in circles instead. I'm thankful to have run with you all. #GraboidGang

To all our coaches: Thank you for putting in the countless hours to help us all improve. While you had quite a wild team, I appreciate the dedication you had to Durango.

To friends and family: Without you, I couldn't even get to races. Thank you for supporting me and allowing me to chase this strange passion called running. And thank you to my regular running buddy (you know who you are)-you made me run, even when I'd rather golf.

To Colorado runners: Thanks for unknowingly inspiring me. It's been exciting to chase many of you around in this atmosphere of fun competition. I wouldn't be where I am without all of you. Fingers crossed for a few last races together.