The XC Countdown is a series of interviews previewing the 2017 cross country season brought to us by Jordan Brannan, a two-time winner of the Indoor Meet of Champions 3200 meter. He'll be joining NJ MileSplit for some summer cross country coverage. Brannan graduated from Colts Neck this past spring and will be attending Iona College this coming fall. - Robert Kellert
Damien Dilcher - SR
4:18 1600 PR ✓
1:53 800 PR ✓
9:22 3200 PR ✓
4th Holmdel returner @ 16:08 ✓
6th 5k returner @ 15:36 ✓
Q. What are some of your big goals for next season?
At Ocean County Park, I want to get as close to 15:00 as I can. As for Holmdel, I want to first get under the 16 minute barrier, then see how far I can go under. The ultimate goal is to go to MOC and see what I can do there against the best of the best. After that, I'm going to attempt to qualify for Footlocker nationals.
Q. Being a middle distance runner, how do you approach the 5k?
I try to stay comfortable for as long as I can; I don't like to go out too hard because I'm a kicker, so I have to have a little bit at the end. It's usually guts either way, so I like to be up there and ready for that last 200. Behind the strength and stamina I'm putting in, I feel like I have the natural foot speed. You can always build strength, but speed is something where you either have it or you don't in most cases, so I feel this gives me an advantage in races.
Q. Are you looking forward to racing anyone this year?
Definitely Devin Hart. We are in the same county, so we've always had that friendly rivalry where we always want to top one another. He's gonna be a lot better this season, but I think I will too. I think we can both run a solid time at Ocean County Park. I'm also looking forward to another showdown with Matt Lepine at the Battle at OCP.
Race Video of Dilcher's victory in the Junior Race at the Battle at Ocean County Park.
Q. How are you preparing for the season?
Last week was my first week back training. I took a little longer off then normal--I really wanted to make sure I was well rested for this upcoming season. I've been feeling really good lately, more miles at a faster pace. We're looking to bring the mileage up a lot this summer. While this week was only a 30 [mile week], I plan on going up by around 5 per week until we hit 70 for a few weeks as my peak mileage. That'll come with a lot of 5k based workouts and Holmdel and OCP simulation workouts in the next few weeks. There is really no rush for us. My first race will be the Battle at OCP, nothing too late but what we feel is the right time to begin.
Q. Do you run on your own often?
I'll run with my team a good amount, but obviously we have to break up eventually. I'll try to stick with them for the majority, but our workouts are planned differently. I'll warm-up and cool-down with them all the time. I also run with a lot of our alumni college runners.
Q. How do you recover from runs?
I see an acupuncturist once or twice a week and I think it's a great way to recover, along with the occasional slow day. I also have no problem with taking a day off as I see necessary.
Q. How is your college search going?
It's going very well right now; I have 3 that I have been talking to: Wake Forest, Iona, and Penn State. Iona is still my top pick they have been very helpful and consistent, and seem to be the best fit as of right now