Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 26
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
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HOME-FIELD ADVANTAGE: Cack Ferrell heads to the finish line during her stellar distance running career at Princeton University. Next week, Ferrell, a 2006 PU graduate who was a six-time All-American in track and cross country, will be competing in the 5,000 meters at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials. The meet is being held at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore. from June 27-July 6, familiar territory for Ferrell, who now lives and trains in Eugene as a member of the Oregon Track Club Elite squad.

Ferrell Feeding on Home-Field Advantage as She Looks Ahead to Olympic Track Trials

Bill Alden

The college town of Eugene, Oregon has often been called the track capital of the United States.

As the home of the University of Oregon, which has produced such legendary runners as Steve Prefontaine, Alberto Salazar, and Mary Decker Slaney together with trendsetting coaches Bill Dellinger and Bill Bowerman, track is a religion in the area.

The cathedral for the track worshippers is Hayward Field, a charming stadium that has been described as the Wrigley Field of the sport.

Currently, the town is in a bit of frenzy as it gets ready to host the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials from June 27 to July 6.

Posters heralding the event have been plastered all over town and the local running community is abuzz as it looks forward to welcoming the top U.S. track athletes.

Planted in the middle of the vortex of excitement is former Princeton University distance running star Cack Ferrell, who is living and training in Eugene as a member of the Oregon Track Club Elite squad.

Ferrell, who will be competing in the 5,000 meters for a spot on the U.S. Team, is feeding off the excitement around her.

“Hayward looks immaculate; the temporary stands are in place, it’s a great environment,” said Ferrell, a native of Minneapolis, Minn. who was a six-time All-American in track and cross country at Princeton.

“There is a big running community here and they are involved in the trials. We are getting the scoop on what is going on. It certainly is more exciting to be training here.”

While Ferrell is pumped to run the Olympic Trials on her adopted home track, she is trying to maintain a business-like approach to things as she trains with coach Frank Gagliano.

“It’s close but it doesn’t seem like it yet, it’s just another week of practice,” said Ferrell.

“Gags is not talking strategy; he’s just trying to get us through the next day. You can get overstimulated. It will hit us when we see the other athletes arriving in town.”

Currently, Ferrell is trying to hone things to a fine edge as she approaches the tapering phase of her training.

“A lot of coaches would say the hay is in the barn but I think you can improve quickness, you can be sharper,” asserted Ferrell, who does much of her training with former Stanford standout Lauren Fleshman and 2004 Olympian Nicole Teter.

“I’m up to 60 miles a week, closer to 70 some weeks. I’m trying not to change too much. We were doing mile repeats in March and April on the track and barked paths. Now we are down to 1,000, 800, and 400 repeats.”

The willowy Ferrell acknowledges she hasn’t had the sharpest year in 2008 leading up to the trials.

In early February, Ferrell ran a personal best for the 3,000, clocking a time of 9:00.37 in an indoor meet at the University of Washington. She followed that up by finishing a disappointing 15th in the U.S. Cross Country Championships.

“The Washington race was just fun, I had a friend rabbiting and it went well,” said Ferrell, who placed 30th at the World Cross Country Championships in 2007 and later took second in the 5,000 at the Pan-American Games.

“My grandpa died a few days before the cross country race; it’s not an excuse but it did affect me. I was highly disappointed with that race. Going to Scotland [for the world championships] would have been a great experience but in terms of training may be a blessing in disguise since I can focus on the track.”

Right now, Ferrell is just focusing on bringing her best to the trials. “It’s a lot less about times; I have a trial heat before the final and I just want to make the top 6 or 8,” said Ferrell.

“There is less focus on times and places. I just want the satisfaction of knowing that I was mentally engaged the whole time, that I didn’t let up in the third quarter, and that I ran a strong, competitive race.”

If that effort results in a spot on the U.S. Team and a trip to the Beijing Summer Olympics in August, Ferrell would be thrilled.

“I can’t even put into words what it would mean,” said Ferrell. “It’s beyond my wildest dreams. I try not to think about that.”

If Ferrell did qualify for the U.S. team, she would be the toast of the town in track-wild Eugene.

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