A competitive club swimmer since he was four years old, Andrew Gyenis chose to apply to Georgetown Prep in large part due to their beautiful swimming facilities. He originally decided to join the cross country team to stay in shape during a three week break between swimming seasons. Never had he run competitively, nor did he expect to be particularly talented at it. Yet three months later, he finds himself doing vigorous pacing workouts on the track in hopes of winning the southeast region footlocker championship freshman race this weekend.
It was a rapid transition from a novice JV runner to the #2 runner on one of the best private school teams in the state. At first, he was practicing with all of the other new runners, but after winning his first JV race at the Lakeforest Invitational, his coach began to see a little more potential. The next week he was running varsity at the Oatlands Invitational and finished second on his team.
"The field was so big [at Oatlands]. I was 66th but after that I began practicing with the top guys."
Practicing with the veterans on the team showed immediate results as he dropped down to 17:40 in his next race, and then 16:57 at the Georgetown Prep Classic. The increased workload in cross country practice was not the only thing contributing to his dropping times. Cross country remained his secondary sport throughout the season. Seven days a week he swam 6,000 - 7,000 yards per day with his club team in the morning. Cross country was merely six days a week in the afternoon.
He dropped his time down to 16:42, placing sixth at the IAC Championship. It was there that his coach told him about the freshman races at the Footlocker regional meets. He looked into race registration and realized that he would be required to compete in the southeast region because he lives in northern Virginia.
"I planned to go to Charlotte anyways. That's where my family has Thanksgiving every year."
The IAC Championship is also where he met Greg Dunston for the first time. Dunston, the coach of Georgetown Prep's track team, has experience as a swim coach.
"[Dunston] asked me if I was swimming [during the winter]. He asked me if I could stick with track because they could really use me for relays...I said I had three afternoons free [each week], and he said to come to track practice those days."
Cross country season ended with a 13th place finish at the DC-MD Private Schools state meet. He was the top freshman finisher and was named mocorunning.com's freshman of the year.
He took a week off from running and then ramped up again in preparation for Footlocker. Dunston along with Prep's #1 runner Ramsey Chapin took up the duty of preparing him.
"The last two weeks has been a lot of pace work on the indoor track."
If anyone knows how to run an even pace, it's Chapin who has proven brilliant in middle distance races in previous years. Gyenis just sticks with him. On the last interval he says he goes all out, just as if it were a race.
"If I plan to go with someone, I can always stick with them and I always have something left at the end."
He has looked at Footlocker results from previous years and knows that it is within his ability to run similar times.
"My plan is to be in the top group the whole race and really kick it in on the last part."