Geiger counts on having big year


Geiger counts on having big year

Wednesday, September 06, 2006
By BRIAN SMITH Columbian staff writer

For Camas junior Shane Geiger, cross country is more than a race. More than a competition of which runner or team is fastest.

For Geiger, it's a proving ground. The ultimate competition.

"I'm very competitive," Geiger said. "I run to win. I have a hard time holding myself back. I want to win, and I want everyone to know that I won when I did."

That competitive streak has served Geiger well thus far.

He placed 30th at the Class 3A state championships last year as a sophomore.

"That was his breakthrough," said Sherrie Crang-Geiger, Geiger's mother and the first-year coach for the Papermakers' cross country team. "He realized that if he focused on his training, he could be in the top-five, or even win the championship."

Nice and polite off the track, competitive as all heck on it, Geiger is regarded by junior teammate Bethy Uelmen-Johnston as both a dependable friend and an inspiring athlete.

"He's very focused," Uelmen-Johnston said. "He does a lot with his talent. And he's a really supportive teammate. He helped me out a lot last year. I went through a bit of a slump, and he stuck by me."

However, Geiger wasn't always known as a competitor.

In fact, his lack of motivation and concern for training was a major issue earlier in his running career.

Geiger was seemingly born to run. Sherrie Crang-Geiger won the NCAA championship at 3,000 meters as a freshman at Idaho in 1982. And she was also an All-American in cross country.

But, Shane Geiger had a tendency to rely on his innate talent to win races until a personal setback in junior high.

"I was favored to win district. But at the meet, in the mile, I got out-kicked in the last 100 meters by a total no-name kid," he said. "And that's what really sparked me to start training. It gave me the push to realize that this is my sport, and I'm going to have to work hard if I'm going to succeed."

Still, he didn't break down his wall all at once.

"I only really started training year-round last winter," Geiger said. "My parents used to try to get me to train, but I wouldn't. It's not that I'm not motivated. I am. It's just that sometimes I don't want to get out the door and do it."

And it wasn't until this past summer that Geiger began to train with other serious competitors.

Teaming up with cross country athletes from Central Catholic, under the direction of coach Dave Frank, Geiger spent the last two months training with some of the best runners in the country.

"We had really hard workouts," Geiger said. "It's basically about 20 guys who can run at my speed or faster. We all push each other as hard as we can. It was a great experience for me."

Geiger now feels like with a year's worth of serious training, his time is now.

"My showing in state last year was decent for me," he said. "But it wasn't enough. I want to go to a (Division I) college on a scholarship. I still feel like I'm an underdog compared to some of the bigger names in the state. I have a lot of work to do."

And according to Sherrie Crang-Geiger, he may be closer to the mark than he knows.

"We think he could go really far," she said. "He's one of those kids, each year, his focus has gotten better. And when he's focused, he's really tough to beat."

Boys Cross Country Preview

Other runners to watch

Athlete Yr. School Of note

Josh Burrus Jr. Heritage 4A GSHL first team

Erik Cronrath Jr. Battle Ground 4A GSHL first team

Tyler Shirley Sr. Columbia River 3A GSHL runner of year

Brad Thompson Jr. Evergreen 4A district champion

Shane Weldon Jr. Heritage 4A GSHL first team