LOS ANGELES, Calif. - You can’t help but recognize the resemblence.
The name is Rashad, Ahmad Rashad, yes the same as former the NFL great best known for his heroic moves as a member of the Minnesota Vikings from 1976 to 1982.
Many recall the “Miracle Catch” against the Cleveland Browns that helped secure a come-from-behind 28-23 victory in December 1980 and a Central Division title for the Vikings. But in 2010, this Ahmad Rashad is looking to create his own moments to be remembered for.
USC sprinter Rashad finally got to show what he could do on the track at the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships after two years of set backs with injuries after showing promise. He tried to remain patient and waited for opportunities while injuries cut his freshman and sophomore seasons short of their full potential.
Going into the 2009 NCAA Outdoor, none of the well-respected pre-meet polls had him in the mix. But Rashad finished the race with a second place finished in 10.10 seconds against a deep field of elite sprinters.
This year, Ahmad Rashad is not satisfied with last years second place finish at the NCAA Outdoors. The Flint, Michigan-native is hungry for track’s biggest title, the 100m NCAA title and helping put USC in the middle of contentions for the team championship crown.
Rashad hopes he continues to improve and have more success against elite fields. But he also knows it is up to him to continue to make a name for himself.
PreRaceJitters sat down with All-American sprinter Ahmad Rashad to talk about his journey, his inspirations, and predictions on the 2010 season.
PRJ: What is the story behind you being named Ahmad Rashad?
AR: My dad got the name from the former pro football player and sportscaster Ahmad Rashad. My dad was a fan of his and I guess that’s how it came about. I actually got to meet him. He called me at school and everything; that was an experience.
PRJ: Your dad, Kevin Rashad is a fan of former NFL football player Ahmad Rashad. The former NFL Viking made a name for himself in the NFL as a gritty player that made big plays. What if any resemblances are there between the two of you?
AR: I’d say that I’ve made a lot of big plays as far as track goes throughout my career.
PRJ: When you talked to Ahmad Rashad, what advice did he give you?
AR: It was around the time when my mother passed away so he gave me his condolences. I haven’t seen him in person since, but I’m sure if we cross paths again we will have a lot to talk about.
PRJ: When did you fall in love with track and field?
AR: As a freshman in high school. The first time I dropped the baton on a relay, I laid out on the track disappointed in myself. After that point, I knew I had love for the sport.
PRJ: What runner or athlete did you look up to when you were younger?
AR: I looked up to Maurice Greene and Michael Johnson. They broke a lot of records and won Olympic gold medals medals and that was something I aspired to do also.
PRJ: What is the biggest inspiration in your life?
AR: My parents are my biggest inspiration. My father is a strong individual and always pushed me to be the best at what ever I was doing. My mother passed away some years ago and I know that she would want to see me strive to be successful.
PRJ: Your first two years at USC, you battled injuries and showed flashes of success. How do you think those experienced helped your develop as a sprinter?
AR: Those experiences helped me to understand the sport and grow as an athlete. I realized that with success comes adversity and dealing with that helped my mind develop a toughness to deal with the injuries.
PRJ: Since we are talking about battle injuries. What happened differently last year?
AR: I was preventative in my approach to injury. Instead of waiting for an injury to happen I did a lot of work to prevent them. Also just naturally maturing and strengthening I think helped out a lot.
PRJ: Your close to the 2009 collegiate season was amazing. You ran 10.10, which was a personal best in your second-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. How much confidence did that race give you?
AR: That 100 meter race in Fayetteville, gave me a lot of confidence. I always thought that I could run with the best in the NCAA but with injuries it prevented me from actually going out and doing it. That race finally allowed me to realize that I can run with the best.
PRJ: USC traditionally does not participate in the indoor season. Is there any chance that you will run indoors?
AR: No. I won’t be running indoor this season. I’m just focusing on the outdoor season this time around.
PRJ: When did you anticipate kicking off your outdoor season?
AR: I anticipate getting things rolling around mid-march.
PRJ: What is your challenge going into the 2010 season?
AR: My challenge is being one of the hunted instead the hunter. Typically I’ve been the hunter so the reversal of roles will be a challenge.
PRJ: This is your last year of the USC –UCLA duel. How serious is the rivalry?
AR: The USC - UCLA rivalry is more than serious. You would think people lived for that meet. I know my teammates have been talking about it already so I know they’re ready. The coaches put a lot of emphasis on that meet so you know its serious. It’s fun and something I look forward to every season.
PRJ: Last year USC’s men and women squads finished in the top ten and a majority of last years scorers are returning this season.
AR: I know that my teammates always strives to finish well as a team and its no different this year both on the men’s and women’s side. Everyone is excited after last season when expectations were low for what position we would finish. I think that has given the entire program motivation to do better this year.
PRJ: The 2010 USC team features a lot of up and coming underclassman who did well last year at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. How good is this team?
AR: I believe this team has tremendous talent and can place in the top 5 at the national meet. Our men’s and women’s 4×4 teams did well at the NCAA outdoor championships. Everyone from both those relay teams are coming back, plus we have some new guys that came in that we expect to really step up this season and contribute immediately.
PRJ: This is your senior year. What is your ultimate goal for your college career?
AR: My ultimate goal is to become the NCAA champion at 100 meters.
PRJ: What is your biggest fear?
AR: Small planes
PRJ: What is your most treasured possession?
AR: My autographed picture of sportscaster Ahmad Rashad.
PRJ: Who would you like to play you in a film?
AR: Jamie Foxx
PRJ: How do you relax?
AR: Watch cartoons.
PRJ: Do you get prerace jitters?
PRJ: Thank you for your time and good luck this season.
After a summer filled with logging high mileage - it is finally here. The 2009 NCAA D1 Cross Country season brings fresh faces, returning athletes along with new dreams and goals for the season.
Make no mistakes - it is all about getting to Terre Haute, Indiana for the 2009 NCAA D1 Cross Country Championships or the goal is failed.
PreRaceJitters has set out on a course to shed light on the athletes and the stories that shape the 2009 cross country season. The mission is to talk about the sport in way that no one else is doing.
Michigan’s Danielle Tauro was selected as the first interview to look at a young Michigan program. The overall program has graduated Geena Gall, Tiffany Ofili and Betty Wade and this year the women have been overlooked by many in the preseason polls.
In it’s place is a cross country team loaded with young, freshmen talent and is led by a budding college star in Tauro.
Tauro delivered in our discussion - painting a insider look at the daily life of a scholar-athlete at Michigan. This is she is embarking on a journey. Coming out of high school, Tauro was a highly runner and is working her way into a prominent college runner in her own right.
You won’t want to miss the multi-dimensional interview with one of college’s most talented athletes and we will continue to bring more discussions with cross countrys most interesting and talented individuals.
Is this her year to shine? The leadership torch has been passed to her and Michigan’s Danielle Tauro is embracing her role as a team leader after the school has graduated a number of seniors from last years squad.
The 2009 Michigan women’s cross country team is fifty percent freshman and the squad is also battling some minor injuries.
In the initial athlete profile of PreRaceJitters’ Terre Haute or Bust series - Tauro talks about deciding to attend Michigan, pacing this young Michigan team and setting her goals high for her self-described “crucial junior season”.
That and more on this latest PreRaceJitters’ podcast.
Geena Gall talks after winning her semifinal heat of the 800 meters.
After winning her preliminary heat in 13.82 seconds, Tiffany Offili of Michigan takes a minute to talk with PreRaceJitters.com.
The reigning NCAA Champion put herself in good shape of the first 800 meter round. Michigan’s Geena Gall qualified for the semifinal round in 2:04.96 seconds and talks about defending her title and goals for the 2009 season.