* Conner Rutherford of Blacksburg (VA) is one of the top contenders for a Virginia indoor state title
Photo Credit: Dan Loughlin/NC Runners
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Over the last year, Conner Rutherford has grown not only into one of the top competitors in the state of Virginia, but also in the nation.
Currently on his resume he's won a VHSL outdoor 1,600m title in 4:17 and is coming off a strong cross country season where he was the first boy to cross the tape at the state championships in 15:46 for 5K.
Ahead of the VHSL Class 4A Indoor State Championships, MileSplit had a moment to catch up with the Blacksburg senior who's looking to win his first indoor individual honor and support the Bruins as they hunt for the team title.
Q: When did you begin competitive running?
A: I ran in intermediate and middle school, but I didn't run competitively until my freshman year in high school.
Q: How do you mentally prepare for a race?
A: I go through potential scenarios during the week leading up to a race so that I can react to my competition. I also talk through strategy with my coach so I feel fully prepared when the race starts.
Q: What has been your favorite cross country and/or track meet so far in your career?
A: The state cross country meet this year, winning states individually and as a team - getting to have that experience with my friends is unforgettable.
* Conner Rutherford after winning the cross country state championships this fall
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Q: Do you have any advice you would like to share with other runners?
A: It's going to hurt the same no matter what, so give it everything you have. The faster you run the sooner the pain is over.
Q: When do you feel like you had a breakthrough moment in your career?
A: The 1600m outdoor state championship race in 2022, I closed in a 2-minute 800 and moved from the middle of the pack to first place to win my first individual state championship.
Q: How are you and your team feeling going into the VA 4A Indoor State Championships this weekend?
A: We are feeling pretty confident after winning the regional meet last weekend. On the distance side, we feel like we are hitting our peak at the right time to hit some fast times at states and nationals.
Q: What goals are you looking to achieve individually or as a team this weekend?
A: We are hoping to get a team title. Individually, I am looking to put up some fast times.
Q: Which event are you looking forward to competing in and why?
A: I am looking forward to the mile, there is a group of fast guys with similar times competing in that event.
Q: Does the Blacksburg team have any fun traditions that you do before track meets or practice?
A: The distance guys have a teapot "Treshawn" that has traveled with us to all of our meets since at least 2017 and is our good luck mascot.
* Conner Rutherford competed at the VA Showcase this indoor season
Photo Credit: Mary Ann Magnant / MileStat
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Q: What hobbies do you like to do outside of running?
A: Photography, reading, cornhole, sketching, and other recreational sports
Q: What's a fun fact about you that not many people know about?
A: I share my birthday with my mom
Q: Who's your track athlete and why?
A: Donavan Brazier because he ran for Texas A&M in College Station where I grew up, and seeing him run there and following his professional career has been motivational. I got to meet him at NXN this year too.
Q: What's your favorite subject in school?
A: Science, specifically environmental science
Q: Who inspires you and why?
A: My dad. He ran in high school and he still runs now. He always encourages me to set hard goals, give 100%, and enjoy my life in the process.
* At the VA Showcase, Conner Rutherford won the Invitational two mile in a personal best of 9:04
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Virginia Indoor State Championships Meet Information