Oct. 15, 2008
By: Keenan Bowen, EWU Sports Information
Alex Smyth is a junior on EWU's men's cross country team, and is immersed in his second season competing with the team. In his first year last season, the native of Kent, Wash., placed 13th at the Big Sky Conference Cross Country Championships (25:08.20) and finished 71st at the NCAA West Regional Championships (32:01:70). Those 8,000-meter times were both the second-fastest times on the team at those meets, just behind standout senior Paul Limpf.
Smyth was also named to the Big Sky Conference All-Academic team for cross country last year, an honor he will also earn this fall. He is an athletic training major and has been on the EWU Dean's List three out of five quarters thus far at Eastern.
On Oct. 18, he finished as the runner-up behind Limpf at the EWU Invitational with a time of 25:00.4 over the 8,000-meter course. Last season he finished third at the EWU Invitational with a time of 25:29.3.
Also this year, Smyth has posted 8,000-meter times of 24:03 (Sundodger Invitational) and 24:08 (Notre Dame Invitational).
Both the men's and women's cross country teams will be participating in the Big Sky Conference Championships on Nov. 1 in Portland, Ore.
Q: How does it feel to be named the men’s scholar-athlete for October?
A: "It is great feeling to be named scholar-athlete of the month. There are many great athletes at this school and to be chosen for this honor means a lot."
Q: Who has been your favorite professor while attending EWU?
A: "So far, even though I have only had him as a professor this quarter, Dr. Matt Silvers has to be my favorite professor. He makes class entertaining while at the same time you learn a lot. Dr. Silvers just happens to share one of my passions . . . running. So we get along pretty good."
Q: What are your plans after you graduate?
A: "My hope is to go on to graduate school. My dream job would to be an Athletic Trainer and Fitness coach for a major soccer club either here in the states or over in England."
Q: Who has been the most influential person in your academic and athlete career while at Eastern?
A: "In high school I always looked up to the upperclassmen since I usually had class with them and I had great respect for them. When I came to Eastern last year, my former teammate Curtis Suver, took me under his wing. He always challenged me in practice to do the best I could and to become a better runner. Living with him last year, he would check up on me, always ask how classes were going and encourage me that if I needed help to get some."
Q: What race are you most proud of this year?
A: I would have to say the Sundodger Invitational (Seattle, Wash.) was my best race this year because it was on the west side of the state where I am from and to race that well in front of friends and family meant a lot."
Q: What race are you most proud of so far in your career?
A: "Back when I was ten years-old, I raced with Junior Olympics and our team qualified for nationals in Chicago, Ill. We went in to nationals telling ourselves that we were going to win and I guess it worked because we came out National Champions. My best friend and I both pulled off All-American honors. That was a race I will never forget."
Q: The EWU men placed a seventh last year at the Big Sky Championships, is the goal this year to place even higher?
A: "This year we are definitely looking to improve over last year. We have an amazing group of guys returning. We have our top five in Bowe (Ebding), Graham (Vaux), Paul (Limpf), Tyler (Justus) and I all returning from last year in much better shape than before. As a team we feel that if we run to our potential, a top three finish in conference is definitely achievable."
Q: What goals do you have for the rest of the year?
A: "For the team, I would love to see a finish in the top three at the Big Sky Conference Championships and see that followed up by a top eight finish at regionals to put us in contention as a team to go to nationals. My biggest goal, as a lot of my friends know, would be to stay healthy. As for cross country, I’d like to finish All-Big Sky and finish in the top 20 at regionals with the hopes for qualifying for nationals. For indoor and outdoor track I would love to focus on the mile and the 5,000-meter race."
Q: What is your pre-race ritual?
A: "I really don't have a set pre-race ritual but all through high school and for some races in college I have had a foot long sub from Subway for a pre-race meal and that seems to work well."
Q: What do you like best about Eastern Washington University?
A: "I would have to say friends are the biggest thing I like best, especially my roommates. Also, the teachers here have always been a great help and supportive in my endeavors."
Q: What part of running cross country do you like best?
A: "I am torn between two. I love racing. I love the competiveness of racing and the challenges it can put forth. But I also love just running with the guys. We have a great team with great chemistry, which is evident since four of us on the team live in a house together."