RAWLINS – Let this sink in.
Her time was 16 minutes, 40 seconds.
That’s how long it took Rawlins junior Sydney Thorvaldson – one of the best high school runners not just in the State of Wyoming but the entire U.S. – to finish the Liberty Bell Cross Country Invite on Saturday in Littleton, Colo.
Of course, if you hadn’t heard by now, Thorvaldson broke the 16:44 invite record, which was set and held by Brie Oakley, a former Grandview, Colo. speedster who is now already raking in accolades as a runner for the University of California.
For Thorvaldson, who’s already a two-time state champion, who’s already won various national accolades and who’s already competed in invite-only events (including cross country) like Nike Elite, Brooks PR and New Balance Indoors – the recent gold in Colorado is just another foreshadowing of future greatness.
The Rawlins Times caught up with her Monday for a quick talk.
RT: Brie Oakley – you beat her out – and she now runs for the University of California. What does that tell you about yourself right now?
Thorvaldson: It’s really great to see that all my training and all this hard work I’ve been putting into it is kind of paying off. I really looked up to her. I watched her race at NXN when she was a senior, and she took first in that race. Just to see that I’m kind of at that level, it’s crazy. I’m super excited for what’s to come, just based on that.
RT: When she was a senior, how old were you?
Thorvaldson: I was an eighth grader, so it was a year before I came to the high school.
RT: Even back when you were in eighth grade, you were looking up to these types of people?
Thorvaldson: Definitely – yes.
RT: Despite killing it so far, do you have any fears about this season?
Thorvaldson: I think there’s always the fear of just being injured just based on all the hard training and the hard workouts that we do and maybe not so much the recovery time we get – that’s always a very real fear. Of course, I have a lot of – it’s not fear – but it’s just kind of nervous energy I guess for how our team can do this season and how I want to do this season, especially with all these new courses and everything.
RT: What can you say about your team?
Thorvaldson: We’ve got a lot of potential this year. We have a very young team, so just getting them the confidence and kind of experience I think is going to be really big for us. But, I’m super excited. I think we’ve been doing so great already.
RT: For your team and yourself, what are the ultimate goals this season?
Thorvaldson: The goals are hard… As a team, I really think we can get at least top five at state. I don’t think we’ve done that really ever, but this year we’re looking really strong and I’m super excited. We’ve got a lot of great runners, especially some of these freshmen – they can really step up. But it’s hard as an individual just based on my goals. I haven’t run the course in Star Valley yet, so it’s kind of hard to have a goal. I heard that course is super hard. I probably won’t be getting a PR, but still getting a good time hopefully.
RT: Despite whatever time you take at any given course, do you ever actually get tired?
Thorvaldson: Yes – actually, a lot of people have asked me that. Yeah, I think I get tired but it’s kind of a good kind of tired. I can tell that I’m working hard, but at the same time you can hear people cheering for you and I really love it, so I think that helps a bit. Even though I’m tired, I still really enjoy it.
RT: Are there different types of obstacles in any given course that perhaps makes you more tired?
Thorvaldson: In Casper Mountain, I got like an 18. It was almost 17.
RT: Was it because of the Pedro Mountain Fire? Did that have something to do with breathing?
Thorvaldson: Yeah, there’s definitely was a few conditions. It was really smoky when we were up there; it was kind of hard to tell if that was it. But that course is pretty tough just in general; there’s that hill right in the beginning. Yeah, it’s kind of hard because with every uphill there’s a downhill. It just all depends.
RT: Here’s another silly question for you. Do you consider yourself human?
Thorvaldson: Yes, I consider myself human, but I don’t know if other people still believe me… I think it’s crazy, It’s unreal kind of how well I’ve been doing. I’ve also been really impressed with myself. But I think I’ve been putting in a lot of hard work, and it’s nice to see that it pays off. But, yes, definitely working hard... I am human, don’t worry.
RT: OK, I had to confirm that. But are there improvements that you still feel you need to make?
Thorvaldson: Definitely, I think there’s improvements that can be made everywhere. But specifically, I don’t do a lot of strength training. I think I can be a little bit better about that. And definitely just kind of preventing injury. For the most part, I just kind of hope I don’t get an injury, but I think preventing it is going to be a huge part of the season.
RT: Can you list off every great accomplishment so far in your career?
Thorvaldson: Oh, wow, that can be a long list. I take every race as an accomplishment. I think every competition I go into for the most part I’m shooting for something. I really think both times I’ve ran NXR in Idaho, they’ve been really great races; I loved both of them. I think this past year, the one where I finished first, I think that was really huge for me. There was also a race during track when I was a freshman. I went to North Carolina – I went to nationals there. I ended up falling in the final 800 and I lost a shoe, and I came back and I missed All-American by one spot.
RT: Are you old enough to be eligible for college scouting yet?
Thorvaldson: Yes, this summer. June 21st I think it was.
RT: Who have you talked to so far?
Thorvaldson: There’s quite a few. Some of them just sent me generic times and ACT scores and stuff like that. But there’s been a few that have reached out and actually called me and wanted to meet up. I’ve talked to UW, I’ve talked to Utah. I just went to the office and picked up two things – one from Purdue, one from Mizzou. And hh, let’s see... Nebraska... we’ve got BYU… we’ve got a few on the list.
RT: Is it going to be for cross country or for track?
Thorvaldson: That’ll be tough. It could be for both. I mean, we’ll kind of see how things go. But I’m interested in both.