Oct. 29, 2008
By Keenan Bowen, EWU Sports Information
In his fourth year with the program, Eagle senior Paul Limpf and his teammates are preparing for the upcoming Big Sky Conference Championships this Saturday in Portland, Ore.
Limpf, who came to Eastern from Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Wash., has steadily improved his performance and is going into the race on Saturday with his eyes on first place in the 8,000-meter race. He finished seventh in 2006 and fifth last season in the Big Sky Championships.
This year has been a successful one for Limpf, who finished first and broke the course record at the Sundodger Invitational in Seattle, Wash., with a time of 23:33. He followed up that performance with a sixth-place finish at the Notre Dame Invitational in South Bend, Ind., and another first place finish at the annual EWU Invitational.
Limpf has also been named Big Sky Conference Athlete of the Week twice this season, as well as Scholar-Athlete of the Month accolades this past September.
Q: The Big Sky Championships are coming up this weekend. What are your goals for that event this year?
A: "As good of a season as I've had, I think winning it would be the goal. David McNeal of Northern Arizona is probably one of the best competitors in the league. He just finished second two weeks ago at the pre-nationals meet. He is definitely a great runner but I think if I just stick with him I can pull it out at the end and possibly get the win."
Q: The BSC Championships are in Portland, Ore., which is close to your hometown of Vancouver. Does that have any significance for you?
A: "I am going to have a lot of family there and a lot of friends from high school. It is basically going to be a home meet for me, so since it is my senior year, closing out at home is a nice way to go out."
Q: The EWU men placed seventh last year at the BSC Championships. Is the goal this year to place even higher?
A: "Last year we were really disappointed leaving conference. We felt we underperformed and a few of our guys felt like they didn't have their best races. The goal this year is to finish in the top three, which has been our goal since day one of this season. We are looking to finish second and beat out Weber State for that spot. Northern Arizona is pretty much the class of the conference - I believe they are top 10 in the nation right now."
Q: What part of running cross country do you like best?
A: "I just love going out and running. It is a lot of fun to run with the guys and on our easy days we just kind of joke around. Today we'll go out and joke around on an hour run and just stay loose for this weekend. I love the competition too. It is a lot of fun when you do well and even when you don't you learn from your mistakes."
Q: Do you have a pre-race ritual, and if so, what is it?
A: "I do the same thing before every race. I go for out for a two or three mile run on the morning of the race just to get the cobwebs out and stay loose. That way my first run is the warm-up and I am already feeling relaxed. I have to put my left shoe on first and tie that one first when I am spiking up. I also don't put my jersey on until about three minutes until the race. It's just something I have done since high school and it has worked, so why change it?"
Q: Who has been the most influential person in your academic and athletic career while at Eastern?
A: "Academically, I would have to say Dr. Liping Zhu of the history department. He is a professor that I really look up to because I've had a lot of his classes since I am a secondary education social studies major. He makes class entertaining but I learn a lot from him at the same time. Athletically, I'd have to say my coach Chris Zeller. He pushes me every day and I give him a lot of credit for why I am in the position I am in today."
Q: What race are you most proud of so far in your career?
A: "The Sundodger Invitational this year. Breaking that course record in front of family and friends was something special. I did it with people overlooking me as well. I have been slightly overlooked by Washington and Washington State my whole career, so it was nice to win one on UW's home course in front of their fans. Also, the Notre Dame Invitational this year because I had family there. I was born in Ohio so I still have family in the Midwest. I pulled off an amazing race that day so it was nice to do that in front of family members that don't get to see me that often."
Q: What are your goals for the upcoming indoor and outdoor track seasons?
A: "I am going to use indoors to get into racing shape for outdoors. In outdoors, I'd love to make it to nationals in either the 5,000 meters or 10,000 meters and I am kind of moving towards the steeplechase this year so we'll see how that goes. I also have to take down the records that I just barely missed last year in the 5,000 and 10,000. I want to get in the 13:40's for the 5,000 and right around 29 flat in the 10,000. I think both of those are achievable the way I have been running."
Q: What race distance do you like best and why? Least?
A: "I like the 6,000 meters the least - it is a weird race and is awkward for me. I'd have to say the 10,000 or the 5,000 is my favorite. The 5,000 involves a little bit of speed and I have that now, something I didn't quite have when I arrived at Eastern. The 10,000 is a gut it out, grind it out type of race. I think it plays into my strengths because that is how I like to run."
Q: What are your plans after your eligibility is up at Eastern?
A: "I want to be a teacher - it has been my goal since I was
in high school. I want to be a coach as well and I'd love to stay
here in the Spokane area because I love it. Right now, with the way
things are going with running, I want to try and make a
professional career out of it. I am going to try to make the
Olympic trials in 2012 and 2016. Those are my big goals and there
is no reason to not try for them."