The men’s and women’s cross country teams will compete at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional today with the goal of making it through to the NCAA Championships. Vitez spent some time with the ‘Prince’ to talk about his nickname, terrible running experiences and his sprouting beard.
Q: Where are you from, and what is it like there?
A: I’m from South Jersey — Haddonfield, to be specific. It gets a bad rep from time to time, because some crazy stuff happened there when I was in high school. But the way Donn Cabral [’12] described Haddonfield was that it was like ‘Pleasantville,’ where every basketball shot always goes in, everything is perfect.
Q: How did you get into running?
A: When I was in sixth grade I started running for our middle school team. It was cool to do track then, whereas now it’s fairly not cool anymore. I was going to play soccer in high school with a lot of my friends, but my brother, who ran in high school, told me, “Hey, I’m never going to talk to you again if you don’t run.” I figured if I continued I could be pretty good at it.
Q: Where did your nickname, “Boo,” come from?
A: My parents called me Boo when I was really little, and naturally that’s what everyone else called me when I followed my older brother around all the time. Since my town is so small, the kids that were in kindergarten with me were also my friends in high school. So I was Boo then in pre-K, and I’m still Boo now. I came here, and I tried to get rid of it. Honestly, I was like, “What girl is going to try to hook up with a guy named Boo?” But [senior distance runner] Greta Feldman went to my high school, and she knew me as Boo, and they wouldn’t let me out of it.
Q: What’s the best thing about being a distance runner and track athlete at Princeton?
A: Distance running is hard to explain to people. You’ll say, “I ran 10 miles today,” and the classic response is, “Oh wow, I couldn’t even drive that far!” The thing about running is that it’s really a long grind, where you have to keep at it for years to have success. To be able to do that with other people who have the same goals as you is pretty awesome. You’re with these people for so long. A long run is two hours; it’s tough to keep anything secret, and anything you got is coming out.
Q: What athletic achievement are you most proud of?
A: Being the eighth-grade badminton champion is probably my greatest moment. My classmate Tsui Chan was the heavy favorite, but I pulled it out. Honestly, last weekend at Heps, where I was seventh in the Ivy League — and three of the guys I live with were all there right ahead of me — was also one of the coolest things I’ve done.
Q: What is your worst or most embarrassing running experience?
A: This summer we went to visit [junior] Alejandro [Arroyo Yamin] in Mexico, in Leon. He takes us on this run on a rickety, winding road in the middle of nowhere. A lot of us got hit with “Montezuma’s Revenge” while we were there, and I was still struggling with it. Sometimes when you’re exercising for a long time, your body’s just got to go, and there’s no stopping it. I peel off into the woods to relieve myself, but when I come back and start running I feel this horrible pain. I keep going, but when I finish, I look down and see my shorts are all red. Turns out that in my rush I used some sort of weird prickly leaf to do my business and ended up cutting stuff up pretty bad. Sitting down for the next couple days was not ideal.
Q: Do you or your teammates have any odd rituals?
A: A lot of what [senior] Peter Callahan does to prepare for his race is mental. If he’s in the right place mentally, there are going to be big things for him. For him to prepare he needs to get into a dark place before he runs. My freshman year we were going to a meet and we were three blocks away, and he was just like, “Oh, crap,” and pulls his jacket over his head. Everyone else was just sitting there like it was completely normal, and I had no idea what was going on. The kid runs 3:58 and is an All-American, though; he can do whatever he wants.
Q: Who is your quirkiest teammate?
A: That’s got to go to [junior] Garrett Rowe. He said he once went on a 32-mile long run, during which a rattlesnake bit him. But he sucked the venom out and carried it in his mouth until he got to the doctor so that he could spit it out and get the antidote. He claims it’s true.
Q: Is there any team or individual that you would hate to lose to the most?
A: I absolutely hated [junior] Tyler Udland when I was in high school. When he was really good junior year, and I was just sucking it up, I was pretty jealous. I absolutely hated him. I still make fun of him for when he wore sunglasses up onto the podium [at the N.J. state championship] when it was 30 degrees out. Team-wise, I hate losing to Stanford. They beat us nearly all the time. But I think we’re getting a lot closer, and I would love to beat them at a major race.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to do when not training?
A: Over fall break we crushed “The O.C.” I was a huge fan in high school and got made fun of a lot. Season two is up for Intersession. With running being a three-season sport, we don’t get to go out all that often — if I get hammered on a Thursday night, I’d have such an awful workout on Friday — but we get to hang out together all the time and chill.
Q: How is the mustache coming along for Nationals?
A: FloTrack [a U.S. running website] does this big thing, “Stachies at Nashies.” My dream is to look like a runner straight out of 1975, and everyone sees you and thinks, “That kid must suck at running.” But then you get out and run fast. I was so happy at Heps when I looked at the photos; I looked like a jackass, but I actually ran well. Tube socks, faded shorts, a bandana and running well ... that would be the coolest thing ever.