Best Of The West Athlete Spotlight - Steve Magnuson


After transferring schools in the middle of his sophomore year, Steve Magnuson (Jr., Ironwod Ridge) had to take a mandatory 365 day leave from Arizona high school competition.  He was able to travel out of state to compete in meets like Mt. Sac Relays and Nike Outdoor Nationals.  Last December Steve competed at Foot Locker West and qualified for the National Foot Locker Team, placing 24th.

He has become part of the dynamic trio of juniors, setting a new standard for Arizona Cross Country and Track and Field (along with Mingus Union senior Tim Freriks).  Recently he traveled to California to run in the 3200 Invitational at Arcadia, running to a new PR of 9:08.04.  Next week he will be running the 800, 4x800, 1600 and 3200 at the 5A II State Meet.

Read on to find out more about this very talented (and humorous) runner!


(Photo: Steve Magnuson running at Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego, California)













800 Meter Run - 155.82  Chandler Rotary

1600 Meter Run - 4:18.29  Mario Castro

3200 Meter Run - 9:08.04  Arcadia




AZTrackXC:  Steve, despite not being able to compete for your high school in cross country last season, you still had a remarkable finish to the season.  How were you able to do that without being able to race prior to Foot Locker West? 


Steve Magnuson: Not racing all year was tough, but I can't argue the fact that I got in some really solid uninterrupted training. I thought it was really important that I raced at Nike Southwest, just to remind the legs what it felt like to race again. It was nice to run well at Footlocker West and have something to remember about the 2008 XC season.


(Photo: Steve Magnuson (left) and Sherod Hardt battling the last 100 meters at the Desert Classic.  Magnuson won the race by a fraction of a second.)


AZTrackXC:Was the transfer from your previous school to Ironwood Ridge difficult for you ?  How was the adjustment to Ironwood Ridge and to the team?


Steve Magnuson: The transfer wasn't difficult at all. Coach Forrest and everyone has been really good to me over at Ironwood Ridge. I was already familiar with the runners on the team because I had run with many of them during past summers, and many of my classmates now went to school with me back in middle school, so it's not like Ironwood was a whole new crowd.



AZTrackXC:The flu has been going around and I heard it got you this week, do you think you will be race ready for  Regionals and State?


Steve Magnuson: Haha, I definitely have the flu. Although not the swine flu, so all is good. I haven't been to school the last couple days, and haven't run since Saturday. I am going to school tomorrow (Wednesday) no matter what because I have an AP Calc test to take at 8am. And because I really really don't want to run in the slow heats at state, I'll probably show up and run as fast as I need to run to make sure that doesn't happen.



AZTrackXC:When did you first get involved with track and field and how long have you been running?


Steve Magnuson: My interest in the sport first started when I ran the 400 for my elementary school at an "Everyone Wins" track meet. I took such pride in myself for winning and because I was the only kid smart enough to pace himself. It was because of that early success that I went out for cross country and track throughout middle school. I never really started training, however, until I met Eddy Hellebuyck the January of my 8th grade year. His son, Jordan, is five years younger than me, and at the time was just as fast. This was really frustrating because I had experienced some success my 8th grade year and the fact that some child was better than me really bothered me. At this time I was really focused on becoming a solid contribution to a high school team and I knew I couldn't be if I was competing with a 10 year old. A couple weeks later my Dad asked Eddy if he'd work with me over the next couple months, and he agreed. At that time it was just Eddy, his son Dennis (who was a freshman in college), Jordan, and I that trained together. They just made running a lot of fun and I really owe it to them for getting me hooked.



Chandler Rotary 800 finish with 50 meters to go, Steve Magnuson in 5th place surges to finish 3rd in 1:55.82. Brian Shrader (Sinagua) finished 2nd.  Magnuson and Shrader were the only 2 in the top 5 from Arizona.


AZTrackXC:What is a typical training week like for you?


Steve Magnuson: I am usually hitting between 60 -70 miles per week, taking a day off per month


M: Workout

Tu: 5 in the morning, 8-9 miles at practice

W: Workout

Th: 8-9 miles

F: Workout

Sa: 10 miles

Su: 12-14 miles


I know a lot of kids like running really hard during their mileage runs, but I don't run with a goal pace in mind. I just listen to my body. 



AZTrackXC:What are your goals for the regional and state meet season?


Steve Magnuson: Region: Qualify for the fast heats at state, otherwise it's just another 4 team meet. State: A team title. I am going to run what it takes to win. The team looks really strong this year, and if I can earn 30 points plus a relay win, we should have a little margin of victory. Then again if I can't do that, I'd consider it a failure on my part. I really can't consider that a goal though, it's more like job.



AZTrackXC:How do you prepare yourself mentally for a race?


Steve Magnuson: Something that I've done recently, that has really worked, is just trying to convince myself that there is no pressure on me and that the race means nothing. As a freshman, I used to get so nervous for every single race to the point where I would feel nauseous. Now,  I really focus on making sure I realize that it's just a race, and that I'm going to have fun.



AZTrackXC:Many younger runners look up to top athletes like yourself.  What message would you tell younger runners who aspire to be at the top?


Steve Magnuson: 

1. Be patient. As a high schooler you have such a long running career ahead of you, and the only thing that is going to slow you down is injury. When you are this young, you can't risk running through something that hurts. Victor Zazueta told me that when I was a frosh and it's just kinda stuck with me.


2. Broaden your horizons. I think what makes the top AZ runners special is that we have never looked only in AZ for competition, but we've been trying to keep up with the rest of the nation. I think its extremely important to never be satisfied with your standing.



AZTrackXC:If you had to attribute your success to one thing, what would that be?


Steve Magnuson: I'm just fortunate that I am surrounded by people who care. My parents are extremely supportive of me and what I do. My physical therapist, Dr. Gyllenhaal, generously works on any injured Ironwood Ridge track team member free of charge. He has spent hours of his precious business time on me this year making sure I can run to my full potential. My two coaches, Gary Forrest and Eddy Hellybuyck, do whatever it  takes to make me a better runner. My running buddies throughout the years, Jackson Messer and Stephen Shaefer have kept the long runs interesting. that was one thing right?


                                                                                             Photo: Arcadia 3200 Meter Run Invitational

AZTrackXC:Do you have any role models or mentors in track and field or cross country?


Steve Magnuson: Jim Walmsley and Victor Zazueta. The first race of my high school career was the Scottsdale Running Co. cross country race. I remember getting on the starting line and seeing everyone pointing at Jim like, "There he is". I thought that was so cool how everyone knew who he was. He kicked me so badly that day and that was the first taste of how far I really had to go. But really they are both such nice guys who gave me a lot of respect and encouragement even though I was just a little frosh.



AZTrackXC:Will you be competing in any post high school season meets?


Steve Magnuson: 


Meet of Champions

Golden West

Jr. Nats or Nike Outdoor



AZTrackXC:Person you most look forward to running against?


Steve Magnuson: Anyone willing to give me a race. I'm going to miss out on all the races going down at state in the 4A-II division, but hopefully all those guys are going to want to come back and run another 1600 with me the following week at Meet of Champions.



AZTrackXC:Most of us only know you as a runner.  Tell us one thing you would like us to know about you outside of running?


Steve Magnuson: I have a job at the Nike Factory Store just down the road. If I have time, I'll play ultimate frisbee with my friends. When I'm not running, I am a huge fan of running, and I visit flotrack, dyestat, letsrun, and milesplit frequently.



AZTrackXC:Do you have any superstitions ?


Steve Magnuson: Ipods during the run deter your running ability, ditch them and talk to you teammates?





AZTrackXC:Looking back on your track season, what was your favorite track moment?


Steve Magnuson: The 4x800 win at Chandler. Our 4x800 relay team, Ethan Schmidt, Stephen Shaefer, Anthony Li, and I have had such great success this season, and it has been fun being a part of it.





Super Seven!



Favorite pre-race Meal?


Bagel with peanut butter, doesn't fill me up but tends to do the job.


Favorite TV show?


House, the zero-sensitivity humor makes me lol


Favorite race (meet)?


Footlocker Nationals. It's the only meet of its kind. No comparison.


Track or Cross Country?


Track. You can compare the times, all the tracks are the same.


Favorite Track Event?


800. I feel like I don't belong there, but it's fun to run fast.


Celebrity crush?


Kara Goucher. She's beautiful, and I hear she runs.


Favorite Shoe?


Trainer: Nike Pegasus, not too heavy but just fits my foot good.

Flat: Nike Lunar, unparalleled cushioning for a flat and just fits like a racing shoe should. Spike: Nike Victory, big fan of the Miler, this shoe is the same but lighter.