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Turn Back The Clock: High School Careers Revisited


July 9, 2000

Welcome to Turn Back The Clock: High School Careers Revisited where we are interviewing America's top distance runners about their high school (and college careers). Today's interview is the first in a series of interviews in conjunction with runwiththebuffs.com (if you haven't ordered this great book do so today), and it is with US 10,000 and 5,000 meter runner Chris Graff.

Graff grew up in Long Island and graduated from high school there in 1993. He went to college at St. John's where he joined fellow Long Island high school competitors and friends Chris Fogarazzo (9:06, 4:16 10th Kinneys Nationals), Brian Quinn (9:19, 4:17 23 Kinney Nationals), and John Honerkamp (1:53, 4:19, 21 Kinney Northeast). Although Graff was slightly overshadowed by them in high school, he continued his development in college, and now is staring at a realistic shot of going to Sydney.

Click here if you want to read Graff's interview about his post-college development and shot at the Olympic Trials.


The Graff File

Birthdate: Oct, 5 1975
Hometown: Rockeville Centre, Long Island, NY

High School: Oceanside High School

High School:

9th grade prs. 2:58 1000m
10th grade prs. 4:50 mile 10:20 2mile
11th grade prs. 4:31 mile 9:40 2mile
12th grade prs. 4:21 mile 9:17 2mile

3:47 1500 13:46 5,000 29:12 10,000
All-American 5k and 10k in 1998.
6th place 5k NCAA; 10th place 10k NCAA

28:07 10k, 13:41 5k
11th at 1999 USATF Nationals in 10k


Q and A With Chris Graff
(July 9, 2000)

RWTB/LETSRUN: Tell us a little about your high school career. How did you get drawn into running? It's not the most popular of sports.

GRAFF: I originally joined the team just to be part of a team. It was between that or soccer and I knew I wasn't a great player, so I thought I would try something new. I had always done well in interclass races in elementary school, so some other friends and I went out for the team.

RWTB/LETSRUN: Did you run both cross country and track? What events in track?

GRAFF: No, I didn't run cross country until my sophomore year of high school, I ran track my 8th and 9th grade years. I first ran the 800 or the mile, mostly because they didn't have enough time to wait for me to finish the 2 mile. By my sophomore year I was a 2mile/mile type.

RWTB/LETSRUN: Did you play any other sports?

GRAFF: I played a lot of soccer when I was younger, but I found that my skill was in being able to run with the ball the whole game, not in what I did with the ball once I had it. Summers were always filled with wiffle ball and stick ball, but I didn't have enough bat speed with a bigger bat to be a good baseball player.

RWTB/LETSRUN: Tell us a little about your training in high school. What advice would you give to someone in high school today? What do you view the keys are to being successful?

GRAFF: In high school we pretty much ran hard everyday. We had a good, competitive team, and we would test each other's strengths and weaknesses constantly. My training partner and I had to convince our coach to let us go on longer runs on the recovery days because we felt it would make us better. I think this desire to be better and work harder was what made us successful then and now. We enjoyed our experiences together and I think that is the biggest part of high school sports, fun competition. I would tell high school kids not to be afraid to set high goals and work hard. You aren't going to burn out. If you want to run 12 miles instead of 10, do it. When you are in high school I think you view the world as a serious of people trying to hold you back. The track is one place where nobody is holding you back but you. It can be a great outlet and source of strength. Use it.

RWTB/LETSRUN: Do you have any impressions of today's crop of high-schoolers? They're putting up some pretty quick times.

GRAFF: I got a chance to see a few races, the mile and 800, at the national scholastic meet at NC State. I was extremely impressed. I went over with Tom Nohilly (a top U.S. steeplechaser) and Pete Sherry (a contender for the Olympic Team in the 5k), and we all came away with the same impression: US distance running is going to be fine. These kids are tough, talented, and most importantly, the love to race. If they run the rest of their careers with the fire that I saw down there, they can accomplish everything they can dream. Plus there are plenty of 9:20 2-milers sitting at home because they couldn't get into meet. That was me. That was Pete. Here we are.

RWTB/LETSRUN: How did you end up choosing St. John's for college? Did you enjoy your four years on there - both on and off the track?

GRAFF: I chose St. John's because I liked the coach, I liked the philosophy, and I like whom I would be running with. In high school my county on Long Island was pretty good. Chris Fogarazzo (9:06, 4:16 10th Kinneys Nationals) Brian Quinn (9:19, 4:17 23 Kinney Nationals), John Honerkamp (1:53, 4:19, 21 Kinney Northeast) and I were all within a few miles of each other. We were rivals but great friends and we decided that we would all work together well if we all went to the same school. Fogs and I decided together first, and John and Quinn came around soon after. It was a unique situation, but one that worked out for all of us. We spent the next five years living together and pushing each other,s limits, on and off the track. It turned out ok though. I think of them all as brothers.
Click here to see what Juli has to say about the upcoming 2000 US Olympic Trials.

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