Andrew Gardner - All In!

Andrew Gardner Interview

By: David Taylor, Milesplit Contributor


Recently I met with Mead frosh sensation Andrew Gardner who had posted a 9:06.75 (3200m) in the Greater Spokane League 4A District Championships, falling just short of renowned Ferris great Adam Thorne (9:06.11). During this interview Gardner put forth extremely lofty goals for a freshman, stating his goal and desire to break 9 minutes for the 3200 meters at the State Meet and to compete with Senior All-American Shane Moskowitz for the individual title.


Gardner competed at the Region Championships, placing a comfortable 3rd in 9:17.34, qualifying for the State Championships on 28-29 May.  At the State Championships Gardner would nearly fulfill his professed goal running 9:01.4, finishing second to his role model Shane Moskowitz (8:59.27). 



That night I was on the phone with Milesplit National Editor Aaron Rich and Ranking Analyst Aron Taylor as the final laps ticked off and Gardner laid his claim to the future of Washington distance running.  Together, with countless others around the nation, we were glued to computer screens as the precocious freshman sought to fulfill his goal, meter by meter he battled with his role model in what undoubtedly was a passing of the torch from one great to the next.  Words cannot express our pride in this young prodigy who has declared himself “all in” to this sport and set a new bar of excellence for the dreamers of Washington State. 



Looking ahead to cross country Gardner has stated, “I want to win State…I look forward to being a mentor to the younger boys”.  They say the measure of a champion is in their ability to stand ready when their moment of opportunity comes, Gardner is ready and where he goes Mead follows.  As we look to the future with anticipation to what this new Mead group will accomplish we should pause and reflect on what a tremendous tradition we share in the “rift valley” of America, Spokane, Washington.  The statement has been made to national competitors: Mead is back, the Spokane Legacy continues, and Washington is once again the hotbed of developing talent.



Enjoy the interview conducted just prior to Andrew Gardner’s remarkable 9:01.4 at State.  This time converts to a 9:04.84 two-mile, and is the #3 all-time freshman performance.



All-time Frosh Two-Mile Marks


1. 8:55.58, 2009, Lukas Verzbicas, New Lenox, Illinois

2. 9:04.4, 1973, Eric Hulst, Laguna High School, California

3. 9:04.84 (conv 9:01.4), 2010, Andrew Gardner, Mead High School, Washington


1)  As you know this has been a special year for distance running in the state of Washington. Coming into the season what where your goals and expectations?  Does the 9:06.75 change any of your goals?


“Coming into the season I wanted to run the standard time for State, which was 9:15, I think, so that I would qualify for State.  I didn’t imagine I could run a 9:06.75!  My new goal is to possibly break 9 minutes at State.”


2)  On May 1st you ran an 8:37.06 3k at the Centennial Invitational, that equates to about a 9:15 for 3200 meters, this was a time well below your PR of 9:28 ran on March 13th at the Richland Jamboree, did this give you the confidence to achieve the monumental effort at Districts?



“My time at Centennial really changed my goals and helped me believe that if I have good competition I can run faster than I can when I run alone.  At the District meet my strategy was to stay with the leader and I surprised everyone as well as myself by being able to do so.  I definitely run faster when I have strong competition.”



3)  What type of workouts and training do you do to prepare for the pace required to run that fast?



“Every day I have a zero hour class and run for about half an hour.  After school Kiesel gives us various workouts that usually include speed group and distance group workouts.  Nearly every day I go to a local gym for an hour or two and swim.  Two days before a race I usually take ice baths for ten to fifteen minutes.  I also am very careful about what I eat near a race.”



4)  Do you have a favorite workout that stands out from the rest?  What is the best you have done at this workout?



“I really don’t have a favorite workout.  Kiesel does a great job of assigning workouts to me that are appropriate to what I’ll be running.”



5)  What are your plans for the remainder of the season?  Breaking 9 minutes? Nationals?



“I hope that I can keep up with Shane Moskowitz during the 3200 at State.  If I do I will probably break 9 minutes, and that is my goal.  I would really like to go to Nationals.  I know it is uncommon for freshmen to go, and I’d like the experience now so that I can be challenged by really great runners.”


6)  What has been your most memorable race to date in your career?  Why does this one stand out?



“My most memorable race was the 8K qualifying race for the Junior Olympics in February 2010.  My mom thought that since the race was in Spokane I should take advantage of it and run.  She signed me up without my knowledge and after I found out I told her I would come in dead last.  She said she didn’t want to waste the money so I should run anyway, for the experience.  I had never run that distance before and when I got to the meet site I realized that nearly all the runners were high school seniors or college freshmen.  I felt kind of stupid and way too young.  But I decided that as long as I was there I would do my best.  I came in 14th and my time was 25:13.  I surprised everyone, especially myself, at how well I did.  I think I was even happier than the actual winner!  It helped me learn that I really enjoy and do well at long distance running.  So I had to sheepishly thank my mom for signing me up.”



7)  What do you like to do with your time when you aren't competing or practicing?  Hobbies?  Activities with friends?



“Every Sunday I play ultimate Frisbee with my friends.  During the summer I play a lot of basketball.  I have 11 brothers and sisters so our family is always up to something and I always have something to do.  And don’t forget about Facebook!”


8)  What role models do you have in T&F?  Why?



“In high school my best role model is Shane Maskowitz.  He always encourages me to do my best.  Outside of high school I really look up to Haile GabreSelassie who I think was the best runner in the world.  I am Ethiopian and so is he so of course I feel like I should cheer him on.  I also really admire my coach, Steve Kiesel.  He always knows how to coach me and gets me into the shape I need to be.  Also he is a wonderful guy and really inspires me.”


9)  Who do you look up to outside of T&F?  Why?


“I think I admire my mom the most outside of track and field.  She took a risk and adopted nine kids from different countries and she encourages us to be the best we can be.  If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here and my life would be really different than it is now.”


10)  We know you are a part of one of the flagship programs for distance running in the nation, does the tradition of Mead and the legacy of excellence affect your perspective on running?


"I’m proud of Mead’s legacy.  It meets the standards I have for myself.  They have Mead Legend t-shirts and all the guys on the shirts have accomplished amazing things in track.  I hope I’ll be added to the legacy shirt during my Mead career.  I also want to help Mead retain their high standards and performance."


11)  How influential has Coach Steve Kiesel been to your success? What component has he brought to your training that has enabled you to have such remarkable successes?


“Kiesel is not only my coach but also like a second dad to me.  He always knows what is best for me and I have learned to listen to him even if I think I should have a different strategy.  I really don’t think I would have done as well as I have if it wasn’t for Kiesel and his being my mentor.”



12)  Looking forward to cross country, you return a pretty stellar team of Harriers, what are your personal and team goals for next season?



“Net season in cross country my goal is for the whole team to make it to State.  This year it was pretty lonely on the podium being the only Mead person there for the first time in 21 years.  Personally I want to win State with Kiesel’s training and I look forward to being a mentor to the younger boys coming in.  Also I look forward to training with the other excellent returning cross country members.  It’s a great group of young guys and I’m honored to be part of Mead’s legacy.”