Cougar of the Week: Ryan Van Dine

Steven Castiglione

Ryan Van Dine (‘18) of East Hartford, Conn. is a top runner for Clark Men’s Cross Country. Clark

Photo courtesy of Clark Athletics
Photo courtesy of Clark Athletics

finished seventh out of eighth in the NEWMAC Championships on Saturday, Oct. 29. He is currently preparing for the NCAA New England Regional Championships on Saturday, Nov. 12, but found time to sit down with The Scarlet.

Scarlet: This past weekend, you competed in the NEWMAC championship. How did it go for both you and the team?

Ryan: The team had a great race, our coach [Bill Gray] gave us a goal, and what he said was that our full team has not had an “A” race on the same day. Coach wanted us to bring it, and we showed up. 10 out of the 12 runners we had PR’d [achieved their personal record], which is really good. Personally, I didn’t PR but I put down a good time and left everything out there, I’m happy with how I ran.

Scarlet: How did it feel to finish first at Connecticut College two weeks ago?

Ryan: It was a great experience. I really liked it. Hopefully we’ll have more of that next year. My last season was an off season for me, and this season was also a building season for me. The only reason I was number one this race was because Alex Hull (‘18) was hurt. So next year I hope to run number one more. That’s my goal.

Scarlet: Looking forward, what are some of your goals for regionals? Is there a time that you are trying to get or beat?

Ryan: Well, the course that regionals is at was the course that I had a personal best on. I broke 28 minutes by a little bit, so I’d like to do that again since I have not had a PR since then.

Scarlet: Was there anyone that inspired you to start running, or was this something that you pursued on your own?

Ryan: I actually started running in eighth grade. I ran cross country all through high school and I actually didn’t expect to run in college, but I visited Clark as a senior and I liked the school and the coach reached out to me. CBG [Coach Bill Gray] recruited me, and it’s history from there.

Scarlet: Is there something special that you do before every race for good luck?

Ryan: Well I kind of think it’s a runner’s mantra to have a pre-race thing they do for good luck. Personally I have specific playlist I listen to before every race. It’s the same playlist from freshman year in high school. I don’t know, it just gets me in the right mindset to run.

Scarlet: What are some songs on there?

Ryan: I listen to the entire “Nothing Was the Same” album by Drake, and then I have some electronic music I listen to. That album gets me so hyped and ready to run. Before the race people will be like, “Ryan, what’s wrong?” because I guess when I have my headphones on I look angry.

Scarlet: Are there any other sports you do other than cross country?

Ryan: Yeah, if I wasn’t a runner I would definitely try to be a soccer player. I played a lot of soccer in middle school and throughout high school. I’ve played soccer for a long time and I definitely miss it sometimes.

Scarlet: What has been the hardest meet this season for you?

Ryan: Well, running is definitely a mental sport. Sometimes when you have a hard week academically, socially, or in any other way, and you go into the meet with a clouded mindset, your race sometimes doesn’t turn out the way you would want it to. That was probably my biggest challenge. This year I feel I have done a lot better with it, but the hardest race of the season had to be Connecticut College. There was pressure for me to finish first since Alex was hurt. There was a duality to it: I was pressured to finish first, but because of that pressure I pushed myself to finish first.

Scarlet: I understand that you have an identical twin. What is something funny you two have done together?

Ryan: Yeah, I have an identical twin named Ben. I don’t know if it would be crazy for other people, because I don’t know what it’s like to not have a twin. We switched places one day for school, and our teachers had no idea. Our friends took a while to figure it out, but it still was a fun twin thing.

Scarlet: What was your best Halloween costume and your worst one?

Ryan: Well I know as a kid my mom fixed our halloween costumes, and one year she dressed me as a pirate with the beard and all, so I would say that was my favorite halloween costume. Last year I went as a Starbucks barista, and that was kind of lame. Not a lot of effort was given last year.

Scarlet: If you could add, change, remove, or replace one thing at Clark what would it be?

Ryan: I’m pretty into sports, and sometimes I wish we had a football team, but having another dining hall might be really awesome because I really like eating. I think it would be really dope if Clark had a football team.

Scarlet: Now imagine that your suite turned into a time machine and hurled you back to the Old West, what would each person in your suite’s role be? [Ryan lives with teammates Jonathan “Jogo” Gober (‘19), Grant Maitland (‘19). Ben Forman (‘19), Alex Hull (‘18), as well as Lenny Strauss (‘19)]

Ryan: Ben would be the owner of the cattle farm, because he wants to be a business owner. Alex would definitely be the owner of the saloon, and Jogo would be with Alex in the saloon. He would get s**tfaced the whole time. Lenny would be the Desperado villain guy, I would be the sheriff, and Grant would be my deputy.

Scarlet: Is there anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?

Ryan: Yeah. We’re gonna give a shout out to the suite for being the boys (GANG GANG), Coach K [Kyle Sullivan 15’] for being the hardest working assistant coach in the NEWMAC, and CBG for killing it this season.

Thanks for the interview, Ryan!