Heading into the first week of regular season meets, we continue our runner profile as we meet one of the top 2A runners in the state, who about a year and a half ago, wasn't even considered to be a contender for the state individual crown.
Sedro-Woolley's Rafe Holz had a great junior season in both cross country and track after an amazing summer of intense training.
Holz broke the Sedro school 5,000 meter record running 16:20.9 at the Northwest Conference Cross Country Championships. Despite having a top time in the state for 2A, Holz placed 42nd at the state championships in his first appearance in Pasco.
A few months later, Holz turned things around in track and had the most improving season in Washington for all athletes from his sophomore to junior campaign.
Running PR's of 4:24.35 and 9:25.16, he placed seventh in the 1,600 meter and 12th in the 3,200 meter at the 2A state meet.
I am excited to watch what Holz has in store for one final high school cross country season, so let's get to the questions already!
What was the motivation to get better as a runner?
"When I first started running, I wasn't in a great mental state. As I started running, I found that the more I did it, the happier I was. The attention I got also made me happier. The better I perform, the more attention I get and that makes me want to run faster."
Did you ever feel there was a breakthrough race for you?
"It was the 3,200 meter race at my bi-district meet. I ran a PR of 9:25, which was a 24 second improvement over my previous best. It was the first race of mine where I felt that I did something special."
What is race day like for you?
"Race day for is always really exciting but stressful. I get extremely nervous before races, even if there isn't much competition."
What about running brings you joy?
"Reaching my goals and getting to meet new people are the parts of running that bring me the most joy. I also like getting to hangout with my team and see everyone improve as the season goes on."
What is your night before pre race meal?
"My meal the night before varies. Sometimes I'll have cheeseburgers, and other times I'll have tacos or BLTS. I can run after eating just about anything."
What type of role have you taken on the last two years for your team?
"I'm trying to step up and be a leader this year. I'm trying to make sure my team warms up and cools down on days we have workouts and races."
Favorite cross country course in the state, or out of state?
"My favorite cross country course would probably be the course for the Twilight Invitational. It was muddy the last time I raced on it, but I remember it being fast and running on it at night was a lot of fun during my sophomore year."
What's it been like running for Head Coach Shawn VanTassel?
"It's been great so far. This is his first year as head coach so it's been a big change from previous years. He is very involved and seems to care a lot about our team."
What are the goals for your senior season?
"I'd like to be a state champion. I'm sure Pullman's Eliason Kabasenche and Selah's Shea Mattson have the same goal, and they're both great runners, so I think it will be an exciting state meet."
Any idea what you would like to study after high school?
"I'm interested in studying some form of sports science."
You've been given an elephant and you can't give it away. What would you do with the elephant?
"I'd probably start a GoFundMe to try and get the money necessary to support the elephant."
Any advice you would give to younger runners?
"I think it's important for young runners to have fun their first few years, but having fun doesn't mean avoiding hard work. Part of what makes cross country fun is the success that comes with it, whether that be getting a new PR, placing in a race or even just finishing. They should set goals that achievable and then work towards them."