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Ryan Collins wrapped up an impressive cross country season as Virginia’s top finisher at the 2009 NCAA Championships in November, finishing 41st. Collins was the ACC Champion indoors in the 5k a year ago and earned all-conference honors during the cross country, indoor and outdoor track seasons. The distance runner recently sat down with to talk about the upcoming season, his goals and the team’s outlook for the year.

The Cavaliers begin indoor competition this weekend, heading to Virginia Tech for an invitational on Friday and Saturday.

Question: How excited are you to get back on the track to compete?
Collins: I am very excited. I love track season. It is a great change from the cross country season because there is a wider variety of events and our team doubles in size.

Question: You had an impressive cross country season this fall. How does cross country help prepare you for track?
Collins: Cross country sets a great base work for me and the team. In cross country, you run a lot of miles and build up your aerobic strength and this carries over to the indoor and outdoor seasons. I was very motivated by this season because I slightly missed All-America honors and was second in the conference, so I have some big goals for the upcoming season to try and improve upon these places.

Question: Indoors last year, you won the ACC title in the 5k. You also earned All-ACC honors in the 3k the next day. What are your goals for those events?
Collins: I plan to do whatever will help the team out most. I plan on running both events in an attempt to score as many points as possible. It would be great to win the events and have my teammates finish high as well.

Question: You mentioned last year that one of your goals was to break the school record in the event. Is that still a goal of yours? If so, what do you think it’ll take to happen?
Collins: This is still a goal of mine. I believe that I was two seconds off last year so I would love the opportunity to get in a fast race and lower the record. I think that it will take a competitive field and smart pacing on my part.

Question: Of all the events you’ve competed in, during cross country, indoor and outdoor, do you have a favorite event?
Collins: The 5k has become my favorite event because I have found the most success in it. It is not as fun as some of the shorter events, yet it is not as mentally taxing as the 10k.

Question: What about a season, is there one you prefer over the others?
Collins: I like outdoor track because it seems like the most important season. We get to travel to a lot of cool places and compete against some of the best runners in the country.

Question: As a team, the men’s track and field squad had a lot of success last year and returns a wealth of experience in addition to bringing in an impressive recruiting class. How do you feel the team will perform throughout the course of the season?
Collins: We are all very excited because we have all tasted victory and we know how great it feels to win. The new class is very talented and I believe they will be able to contribute to our team right away. I think that we are very strong in every event and I believe that we will all inspire each other to perform to our potential.

Question: If you could trade places with any teammate for one day, who would you choose and why?
Collins: I would be Marcus Robinson because jumping sounds better than distance running and I would be able to fulfill my dream of being able to dunk.

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