This week I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Christian Academy of Indiana senior Skylar Stidam. Skylar is coming off a breakthrough junior campaign where he won the Brown County Semi-State, and was third at the State Championships last Fall. His success continued into the track season, culminating in a State Runner Up finish in the 3200m. Coming into the 2017 Cross Country season, MileSplit Indiana has him as a solid #2 runner, behind only Gabe Fendel.
MileSplit Indiana: You had a pretty big season last year. You kinda came out of nowhere at the end of the season. Talk us through last year.
Skylar Stidam: A big thing that I took away last year, it isn't the meets early in the season that counts, it the postseason meets and the championship that really matter. Last year me and my coaches were really specific on what we wanted to do, and that was to perform well at the State Meet, so we really peaked for that meet. I think it all worked out well, and I thank God that He gave me the opportunity to run.
MSI: So what are you taking from last year and applying to this season?
SS: Yeah so last year, well I was a lit bit nervous early on because I wasn't performing as well as I wanted to at the start of the season. Trust your training though, and it is all going to come together in the end. Staying patient is what I really learned last year.
MSI: What did your summer training look like?
SS: Summer training went really well. I went out to Colorado for camp out there and was out there for five weeks. A lot of base work, not anything crazy. Just getting miles in, and I feel probably more fit than I've ever been. I am ready for a great Cross Country season.
MSI: So where are you at in your training right now?
SS: Right now, we are in the phase where we are transitioning into more speed endurance work. So no fast, short intervals yet, but we are transitioning from our big base in the summer and we're carrying that over to more strength type stuff. We're doing stuff like 15 minute tempos, 20 minute tempos, stuff like that.
MSI: What are some of your goals leading into this season?
SS: The goal this year is to help my team as best as I can to a podium performance. That is really what I want to do. I want to lead my team and make them the best that they can, while making myself the best that I can at the same time.
MSI: You mentioned your team, talk about them a bit more. What do you see them doing this season?
SS: So right, we have a really strong top three. I think one of the best top three in the state of Indiana. We have me, Caleb Futter and Bryce Dunn, both returning from last season. The key to our success is dragging our four and five runners up closer to where this top three has been. Caleb and Bryce are both sub 4:30/9:30 guys, and as long as we can get those other guys as close to 16:30 as we can in Terre Haute in October, that is going to put us in real good position to be on the podium.
MSI: What is it like to practice with Caleb and Bryce everyday in practice?
SS: The competition is awesome! Just having them there, working and grinding with you, I mean honestly, its perfect. They're great hard working guys. Best to them in the coming years when I am gone, but I am so blessed to have them with me right now.
MSI: Last year, you really killed it in big races. In Cross Country it was the Semi-State and State Championships. In Track, it was FSU, Arcadia, Eastern Relays and States. Any key races you are focused on this Fall?
SS: This season we are really only honing in on three or four regular season meets. The THSB Invitation, The Brown County Eagle Classic, The Trinity/Valkyrie Invitation and the Golden Bear Classic up in Shelbyville. Like I said though, it is all about October. Nobody remembers what happens in September, but everyone remembers what happens at the end of October, so that is what we are keying in on this year.
MSI: What do you think is your biggest challenge this year? For you and CAI, what kind of challenges do you guys face?
SS: For Christian Academy, I think we are maybe a little inexperienced. Those guys haven't been on a big stage like a State Championship before. So I know I really need to be there for the guys, and make sure that they are comfortable and that they get it done on the day we need them the most. For me, the biggest challenge is making sure that I show up when I need to show up. I would like to qualify for Footlocker Nationals this year, so that is definitely a big challenge ahead of me.
MSI: Fast forward to the end of the season, what needs to happen for you to be satisfied with your senior campaign?
SS: What would really make me satisfied is qualifying for Footlocker or NXN, and hopefully being an All-American there. I really just want to lead my team though, and be the best leader that I can be, and really make sure that we finish on that podium this year.
MSI: How is college recruiting going? Do you have a shortlist together?
SS: Recruiting is going pretty well right now. I do have a shortlist. Some of the main ones on that list include Colorado, Northern Arizona and Indiana University. There are some other ones for sure, but those the top three right now.
Skylar and the Christian Academy of Indiana Warriors will be opening their season this Saturday at their home invitational. You can follow coverage of the CAI Warrior Invitational here on MileSplit Indiana.