By ANDREW JOHNSON
Going into the season, many familiar with the Blue Jay men’s cross country team identified senior Schaffer Ochstein as the potential X-factor who could guide the program to another year of sustained excellence. Although the campaign is still in its early stages, the lightning fast senior co-captain has thus far lived up to those lofty expectations. Ochstein finished first in the 8,000 meter event at the Mustang Stampede, an exceptionally competitive meet that was hosted this past Saturday by Stevenson University.
His time of 26:14.31 was enough to outpace the rest of the 80-man field and put Hopkins in an excellent position to secure victory at the meet. In addition, Ochstein was named Co-Centennial Cross Country Runner of the Week, the first time in his career that he has received weekly All-Conference honors. I sat down with Ochstein and we discussed his running career at Hopkins, expectations for the remainder of the season and what he will miss most about collegiate running after his Hopkins career comes to an career.
The News-Letter: What have you enjoyed most about your time at Hopkins, either academically, athletically or socially?
Schaffer Ochstein: The team. I enjoy running and chilling with the guys on the team, whether it is during a morning workout, eating dinner at the FFC or traveling to meets.
N-L: Who has contributed most to your development as a runner at Hopkins? How has collegiate running differed from your prior experiences in high school?
SO: The entire team and coaching staff have been vital to my progress as a runner over the course of my four years here. The races are much more competitive in college and the workouts and amount of running is much more strenuous than I was used to in [high school].
N-L: This past weekend, you finished first in the 8,000 meter and claimed your first career Conference Runner of the Week honor. What did you specifically focus on over the offseason to become even faster and prepare to lead your team this fall?
SO: Over the offseason I just made sure I got the miles in. I was dedicated to my schedule and put the effort in each week to ensure that I would come back in excellent shape for my coaches and my teammates.
N-L: What individual goals do you have for yourself for the remainder of the season? What goals do you have for the team, and how do you think these can be accomplished?
SO: One personal goal of mine is to continue to be a leader for the team. Our team goals for this season are to win conferences and then use that momentum to achieve more post-season success. In order to accomplish these goals, the team has to continue to run the miles and do the little things to get stronger and stay healthy.
N-L: Do you think running will continue to be a vital part of your life after your collegiate career concludes? What will you miss most about competing on the men’s cross country team?
SO: Running will still be a vital part of my life after my college career. I will miss the camaraderie of the team, the fun times on the travel trips and competing not just for myself but for my teammates.
You can catch Ochstein and the rest of his teammates this upcoming Saturday at the Iona Meet of Champions. The meet is in Van Courtland Park in New York, with the women set to start at 9:30 a.m. and the men following at 10:05 a.m.