A year ago, Ryan Wolfe was a Cedar Crest junior cross country runner who placed fifth at the Lancaster-Lebanon League championships, thirteenth at the District 3-3A championships and 33rd at the state meet.
He was part of a key cog for a Falcons bunch that went 7-2 in league regular season meets before being the runner-up at the league championships.
Now a rising senior, Wolfe is among the top returning L-L boys cross country runners and part of an experienced Flacons’ squad heading into the 2021 campaign.
With the start of practices to the fall season less than a month away, below is a recent Q&A with Wolfe that was conducted with LNP|LancasterOnline.
What got you started in running and what was your journey up to your junior campaign in fall 2020?
“I always played baseball and soccer in middle school. My older brother played in high school, so that’s what pulled me (to run). I wasn’t going to run but my brother convinced me. Ever since then I’ve loved running. I wasn’t a standout runner at all by any means. I came around by my sophomore year at the top of the pack.”
What has been the learning process along the way in terms of training, pacing, flat courses vs. hilly courses, knowing when to push and knowing when to pull back, diet, etc.?
“I have a strong point with hills. For me, that is a good part of my racing. As far as pacing, I feel like I got the hang of it racing.”
What do you mean by being strong at hills?
“I normally keep my distance and gain a couple steps on the way up. At the peak of the hill is when I start to go. That’s usually when everyone is trying to recover from that hill.”
What were some of the behind-the-scenes challenges you faced last fall?
“For us, our struggle was COVID-19. For us as a team, our team is normally based around family and leadership. So for us it was hard to do that because we could not meet outside of practices. That was a change for a team. We got to know each other a lot by the end of the season. But the start of the season was a little rough with that.”
You’re a standout runner in the spring for Cedar Crest track & field. How does running in track & field correlate to running cross country?
“They both help each other. Cross country helps with endurance. Track helps with leg speed. They do go hand-in-hand with each other.”
What has your offseason training routine been to this point?
“This is our first high-mileage week of the summer. Training is just starting to ramp up. We have two or three more weeks of high mileage. We have a cross country camp (week of July 26) so that will be exciting. So it’ll start ramping up the next couple of weeks then it’ll ease down going into the races.” “It’s roughly 50 to 55 miles running this week. That’s about as high as we get. Training doesn’t really change other than the mileage. We’re still running speed, hills, everything like that.”
Do either of your parents have an athletic background?
“My mom was a sprinter at Lebanon. My dad played baseball at Lebanon. Both went on to play at Lebanon Valley College for their sports as well.”
Have you tried any other sports along the way?
“I played baseball all the way up to my freshman year. I did track and baseball for awhile. Then I chose track.”
You’re the middle brother of three boys. What have you learned from your older brother, how are you carrying that over to now being a role model for your younger brother?
“My older brother think we look like twins now. He has taught me a lot of what I know. We do the same things. We say the same things. We’re almost twins. For my little brother, I try to set the good example academically and athletically.”
Your older brother get you started in running. Have you beat him in a foot race yet?
“No. I have not raced him one-on-one. That’ll be something I have to do coming up.”
Let’s go to the classroom. What do you excel at?
“I excel at mathematics. Anything math-based. My favorite subject is an honor’s pre-calculus class.”
Is college in the picture for you? If so, what would you like to study?
“Yeah. Right now I’m stuck between two fields. I’m looking at engineering. But I’m also looking at business programs such as accounting or finance.”
Time for some fun questions. You find a genie in a lamp. You get three wishes. What are they?
“A high-paying job that I enjoy. I would also wish for this year that our team excels a lot. ...I guess especially now that everyone in my family stays healthy.”
Do you have a favorite quote or motto?
“My word is ‘inspire.’ No matter the day you’re having, you can always inspire somebody. Whether it’s somebody way younger or way older. Even if it’s not your best race day, you can always inspire somebody, whether you know it or not.”
Brandon Risser has been the longtime Cedar Crest cross country head coach, with Rob Bare as the longtime assistant. They switch those roles in the spring with track & field. Do you have any funny stories about those two?
“There was a story way back where we were at a meet. An older lady came up to them and asked if they were twins. It was the funniest thing. So now we got matching socks for them for Christmas.”
Are you superstitious?
“For cross country, I wear the same pair of socks. For track, I don’t have any superstitions.”
What was your favorite toy as a child?
“I had this Mickey Mouse set. They were little action figures. I’d play with them everyday.”
You’re in charge of the lunch menu at school for day. What would you add?
“I would add sparkling water. I like the flavors to them.”
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to freshman Ryan Wolfe?
“Just to have fun with it. I know everybody says this but time really does fly. If you don’t enjoy running, then there’s no reason or desire behind why you are running.”
What motivates you in life?
“The satisfaction of making my family proud. I know my family would be proud of me if I did awful or great. But knowing I did well and my family is back there cheering for me. That’s a moment anyone would live for. Seeing them smile after I PR’d or won a race.”
What are the expectations for Cedar Crest boys cross country this fall?
“Everyone’s goal is to be league and district champs and qualify for states. But we have a shot at bringing something good together. As far as league goes, Hempfield is ahead of us, and Manheim Township is right behind us. ...I think we have a similar team coming into this year. We gained a lot of talent back and are training hard.”