Interview: Gabe Simonsen

Interview: Gabe Simonsen

Gabe Simonsen is a multiple time state champion, holder of the 3200m state record, and runs for last year's cross country national champions, Oklahoma State University. Simonsen's high school career at Mustang High School is one of various awards and accolades. By the time he wrapped up his final season, he had solidified himself as one of the best ever in the history of Oklahoma high school running. His performances can be defined as consistent, almost always competing towards the top of any race.

Simonsen's high school personal bests and accolades:

800m: 1:57.19
1600m: 4:14.38
3200m: 8:56.07
5000m: 14:35.88

Gatorade Oklahoma Cross Country Player of the Year: x2

6A Cross Country Individual State Champion: x3

6A Cross Country Team State Champion: x1

6A 1600m State Champion: x1

6A 3200m State Champion: x1

6A 4x800m State Champion: x1

3200m State Record Holder: 8:56.07

Below is a Q&A interview with Gabe, where he details his high school career, thoughts on Star Wars, hobbies, and his time at Oklahoma State thus far.

1. What is one moment from your high school career that you remember most and why?

A) The one moment in my high school career I remember most is winning the cross country team state title. That was by far my favorite moment in my high school running career because I got to share the experience with my best friends. The feeling of all of our hard work we put into the sport paying off was the best feeling to experience and celebrate together.

2. Rank your personal favorite Star Wars movies and tv shows.

A) My top five Star Wars movies and TV shows are: a. Star Wars The Clone Wars b. Revenge of The Sith c. The Empire Strikes Back d. The Mandalorian e. Return of the Jedi

The clone wars is my favorite because it brings back memories and it has a lot of Anakin content and I am a huge Anakin fan.

3. Outside of running, what else interests you?

A) Outside of running, I spend a lot of time hanging out with my friends and teammates. Some other hobbies I have been doing recently are playing chess, reading, and video games. I am also a follower of Christ and attend Life Church here in Stillwater which is a lot of fun.

4. Who has been the most influential figure in your running career and why? 

A) The most influential figure in my running career is my high school coach McGarry. He was not only a great coach but a great mentor for me when I was in high school. McGarry always set high expectations for me and supported me greatly for my whole high school journey. He was great at listening to my input on things when it came to workouts and racing. I was extremely grateful to have a coach like that in high school. Outside of running he also gave great life advice which I still apply today.

5. What is your favorite Dave Smith inspirational story and why is it the mice story?

A)  I really like the mice story because it can always be applied to someone trying to pursue a goal. I am at a point in my running career where I have been struggling like the mice that fell into the bucket. But I know that I have to be patient and keep putting in the work. I know the end in sight will eventually come, because drowning in cream is not ideal.

6. Three biggest pieces of advice for aspiring high level high school athletes for dealing with the pressure of performance expectations? 

A) Some advice I would give high school athletes when it comes to dealing with the pressure of performance expectations is accept that the pressure will always be there and don't let it ruin the sport. The pressure is there because we want to be great, without it there would be no drive. I think it is great to set high expectations for yourself as long as you continue to love what you are doing.

7. Do you feel like your pursuit of running success in middle school and high school took away a lot of the fun about being a kid or enhanced it? 

A) I think my pursuit of running success in high school and middle school really made my childhood a lot of fun. I have always been a competitive person so I always enjoyed the process of pursuing excellence in sports so it never really took the fun away. Of course there were moments where I would have a bad race or workout and would beat myself up about it but I don't think that took the fun away.

8. Has running for OSU been what you expected it to be going in?

A) Running at OSU has not been exactly what I expected going in. In high school I was very fortunate to never experience an injury. At the end of my freshman year and at the start of my sophomore year I had two injuries that set me back quite a bit. I would have never expected that to happen, but I also did not expect everything to go perfect. Running is a very tough sport when it comes to injuries and it is something that basically everyone has to go through at some point.

9. Give us your take on the Last Jedi.

A) I did not like The Last Jedi at all. I think J.J Abrams had a decent start to the sequel trilogy with The Force Awakens. Then I feel like Rian Johnson took The Last Jedi into a completely different direction, especially with Luke's character. Then Abrams had to try to save the trilogy with The Rise of Skywalker which was also a mess. I'm not a huge sequel hater like some people, but I was a little disappointed with how the trilogy went and I wish we could have seen how George Lucas would have handed the trilogy instead.

10. Why did you originally start running? And have the reasons stayed the same or changed? 

A)  I originally started running to help me get in better shape for soccer when I was in middle school. Then I eventually learned that I liked running way better and I wanted to pursue it over soccer. The reason I run now is because I want to see how great I can be in the sport and because I genuinely enjoy it and the friendships it brings.