NDIANAPOLIS--Leading up to the NCAA Regional Championships, HorizonLeague.com will profile the men's and women's individual champions from the Horizon League Cross Country Championships.
Wednesday, Nov. 13: Tess Ehrhardt, UIC
Thursday, Nov. 14: Eric Rupe, Youngstown State
For more more information on the NCAA Regionals, visit the NCAA Regional Central page on HorizonLeague.com
Meet Eric Rupe
Hometown: Cortland, Ohio
High School: Maplewood
2013 Season (Junior)
-Champion at the Tommy Evans Invitational, Disney World Cross Country Classic and the Horizon League Cross Country Championships.
-Registered two Runner of the Week honors. Sept. 9 | Oct. 14 | Oct. 21
-Named Horizon League Men’s Athlete of the Year.
-Led the Penguins to a program best runner-up finish at the League Championships.
2012 Season (Redshirted)
-Maintained junior eligibility
2011 Season (Sophomore)
-Placed 13th at the PSU Spiked Shot Invitational running a 27:12 in the 5.2-mile event
-Finished 20th at the League Championships, completing the 8K course in a time of 27:25.
-At the Great Lakes Regional, finished the 10K race in 143rd place, registering a time of 33:17.
2010 Season (Freshman)
-Paced the Penguins at the Bowling Green Falcon Invitational with a time of 25:55 to finish 34th.
-Second-best placer at the Horizon League Championships (36th place).
-Went on to finish the 10K Great Lakes Regional in 35:04.
The Rupe name is synonymous with running in the Youngstown and Ohio area. How special was it to win an individual championship in front of a home crowd at the 2013 Horizon League Cross Country Championships?
I think that was the first time we’ve hosted conference in quite a while and we had a lot of fans out there. I knew coming in that if I ran a good race I’d have a shot so my goal was to hang with the pack and then make a move with a mile to go. The last 100 meters I knew I had it, right in front of the crowd it was a pretty awesome experience.
You were in a tight pack with Detroit teammates Martin Nelkie and Ryan Hofsess of Detroit and Dan Shafer of Wright State. At what point did you feel you could pull away from the pack?
Going in I knew I wanted to get with the lead pack and make a move. I was with the lead pack at about the four mile mark which is right at the top of the hill. Once I got to the top of the hill I wanted to go hard and see if I could break them. Going into the third loop, which is about three to three and a half miles in I started getting a little antsy and I had to tell myself to wait for my spot (the top of the hill). Once I got to the four mile mark I just said let’s go as hard as we can and hold it for as long as we can.
On Nov. 2, the same day as the League Championships, your brother Scott raced Maplewood to a runner-up finish in the OHSAA Division III Championship, your older brother Craig coached Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy (CVCA) to a seventh-place finish in the Division II race, and your uncle Chris coached McDonald to a Division III Championship. What was the excitement like in the Rupe family on that day?
It was pretty crazy. My brother ran about an hour after I got down, then my other brother who was coaching was right after that. I think this is the first time my dad missed a state meet since 1981 and it was also my first time missing a state meet since I was probably a one year old. It was kind of weird with a lot going on but we were so excited to hear how they were doing, it was a crazy day.
The past three seasons the Penguins have finished in seventh-place at the League Championships, how satisfying is it to vault all the way to second-place this year?
We knew last year—our number two guy Austin (McLean) had a stress fracture and I redshirted— so we knew we might be kind of down but we could be a lot better the following year. Going into conference, we figured we could be anywhere from third to fifth so to get second on our home course was quite a shocker. It was definitely awesome, we knew we could do well if we pulled together at the right time, and we did which was pretty cool.
In an interview with Joe Scalzo of the Youngstown Vindicator you explained how you lost your enjoyment for racing. After redshirting in 2012, is it safe to say the thrill is back?
I don’t know if I lost my complete enjoyment for racing, it just became really routine. Having a meet every week was like, here’s another meet. Taking a year off it just was like bam, I can’t wait to get out there and race again. Before I was nervous and would put all this pressure on myself before races. Now, I was smiling before the Horizon League race and I wasn’t nervous or anything, I was just excited to run and had so much fun with the rain, the mud, the competition.
On Nov. 15, Youngstown State travels to Madison, Wis. for the NCAA Great Lakes Regional. What are your expectations for the race, which takes place at the Zimmer Championship Course?
In the past, my freshman and sophomore year, you run conference and you get to regionals and you’re like now we run a 10K, this is awful. But now I’m concentrating on having a good, solid race. I think I can, I feel like I’m still in my best shape right now. I don’t have any goals I’m just out there to race some guys and have a solid race and hopefully lead up to next year and have a really good race at regionals.
Growing up in the Youngstown area and attending Maplewood, what drew you to Youngstown State?
It’s interesting, when I was in high school I never thought I was going to Youngstown State. I actually went to University of the Cumberlands, a small school in Kentucky. I got down there and after 10 days I hated it, I was like I got to get out of here. So I went to YSU and I actually started class a week after classes started which was crazy. I was so confused as to what was going on and just meeting the team. But after that year, I loved it here. I think that’s the only way I could have ended up at YSU but I’m so glad it worked out the way it did.
If you had to explain coach Brian Gorby in one word, what would it be?
Selfless. He isn’t selfish at all, when you get done with a race he’s giving you all the credit and he’s not saying all the work we did, it’s the work you did and you ran a good race. He’s always putting the emphasis on you and the program and not himself. I’ve never seen a coach get so excited after his athletes do well.
What is your favorite education class you’ve taken thus far?
An assessment class I have where they basically teach you how to make tests. I have a professor named Dr. McEwing—him and I kind of go back and forth with friendly arguments about some of the topics which is fun.
If you could teach any grade, what would it be?
I would say high school. For grade wise, I'd probably say junior or seniors because they are a little bit more mature.