The Pop-Up Interview: 800s and Burritos with Utah's Haden Penrod

Springville (Ut.) High senior Haden Penrod is finishing up his indoor season and getting ready for the outdoor campaign, but boy did he have quite the winter. The prolific half-miler won the UHSTCA Invitational, the unofficial state indoor meet in Utah, in 1:53.37, then came back two weeks later and slashed a half a second off his time for an all-time PB and US #4 time of 1:52.61 at the Utah Distance Challenge at the Olympic Oval in Kearns. While Penrod is a two-time outdoor state champion in the 800m, he also isn't too shabby in the 1600m, where he set another PB on Feb. 18 at Simplot Games with a  US #6 time of 4:13.82. What's remaining for the senior, who has fielded interest from schools such as BYU, Weber State and Utah State? Well, a third state title in the 800m wouldn't be so bad - and he's looking to break 4:10 in the 1600m, too. MileSplit caught up with Haden recently to talk about his indoor season. 

Cory: Let's start first with that indoor PR. You ran 1:53, which is just a hair off your outdoor record. How did you view that race in terms of what you were able to do? Was it a big success for you? 

Haden: Yeah, for sure. Honestly, when I went into that race, I was hoping that I could get under 1:55, and anything under 1:55 would have been great for me. But to get that close to my PR so soon, was, I thought it was great. I was really surprised that I could do that. 

Cory: What is it about that Olympic Oval there in Kearns? Is that a special track to run on? It seems like a lot of fast times happened at that track and during that meet there were several of them. So what is it about that track? 

Haden: Yeah, that facility is very special. I think everything about that place is just the perfect condition to run in. It's a long track, it's 440 meters. It's perfect temperature. It's right around an Olympic skating venue, so it's just amazing. The feeling of being there is sweet. 

Cory: It was still kind of early for you to run 1:53. You haven't run a lot of meets before that - maybe BYU prior - but were you surprised you ran that well that early? 

Haden: Yeah, definitely. In past years I have not ran that good this early. It was the Olympic Oval so I was expecting an OK time, but I was just hoping to get a base to base everything else, like training, off of. It was really fast, at least for me.  

Cory: When you look at your PRs, there's still a lot of room to grow in the 800m. How fast do you see yourself going, or how would you rate your success moving forward?

Haden: I don't know. I definitely want to get a lot faster. I've kind of been stuck at 1:53 since I was a sophomore. So if I can break out of that during indoor, it's just going to be a great confidence booster. To know I can go sub-1:53 and I can hopefully get into the low 1:50s. My big goal is to get under 1:50. 

Cory: I don't want to forget you're a 1600m runner, a 4:14 PR, you've run 4:16 at UHSTCA. Does the 800m prepare you for the 1600, or does the 1600m help get your ready for the 800m? Or is there a little bit of a mix in between? 

Haden: I'd have to say it's little bit in between.  I would probably say the 800m helps me more with the 1600m, at least being able to run quickly at the end and getting up at the 16. 

Cory: What are some of your goals when it comes to the 1600m?

Haden: So actually my goal for indoor season was just to get around 4:20, so to get 4:16 was, I was really happy with that. Hopefully by the end of indoor, I can get my PR, 4:14, and during outdoor I would definitely like to go for getting under 4:10. That's probably my biggest goal for the 16. 

Cory: One of the last things I would like to ask you is about your team. You seem to have a really great bond with one another. You know how to pick each other up, but you're also grounded. How much does that bond as a team help you really find success in indoor or outdoor track or cross country? 

Haden: I think the team has a lot to do with it. This year, in all the races I've run so far, I've had at least one teammate in each of my races, at least in the miles I've run. I think that's helped reduce the stress, knowing this is my team out here I'm running with. Just after cross country, after we were able to do as good as we were able to do, we came a lot closer. And just to be able to run with all of them, it's a lot easier to race knowing you're running with people you know and people who want you to succeed. You're running with people you want to succeed. 

Cory: Haden, thank you for the interview. This has been a Q & A with MileSplit. Best of luck moving forward in your indoor season and outdoor, and thank you again. 

Haden: Thank you!