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TRACK : SU’s Straneva takes lessons learned from time with US junior’s team

first_img Comments Published on April 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm For Max Straneva, the third time attempting to qualify for a cross country spot on the junior’s division of Team USA was the charm.The first time, Straneva was just a junior in high school, going up against college-aged competitors. He failed to qualify. The second time and a year later, Straneva never made it to the race. A nasty snowstorm barred him from reaching Washington, D.C., where the race was being held.But this February, Straneva finally met his goal. The third time — Straneva’s last chance of qualifying for Team USA — he qualified. He placed second in the junior men’s 8K race, nine seconds behind the winner.When Straneva, now a freshman on the Syracuse track and field team, got on the phone with his parents following the race, they could tell their usually laid-back son was having trouble keeping his emotions in check.‘He was pretty pumped. He was pretty excited,’ said his father, John. ‘He stayed calm, I think, during the race and had a controlled race, but when it was over, he was really ecstatic. It was fun talking to him about it.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘You could almost see him smiling over the phone, he was so happy.’Straneva’s parents were so confident their son would qualify, in fact, that they got him the passport he would need to go to Spain, where the World Championship took place, before the qualifier even took place.‘We were ready,’ said his mother, Jo.After he made the team, Straneva, who was the only SU freshman runner, trained with Team USA. For the Orange runner, the experience was like no other.‘It was a great experience,’ said Straneva. ‘I really enjoyed competing against guys I’ve never seen before — never even heard of. But it’s a great group of guys that were coming from different backgrounds. A lot of them had been training harder than me, or not as hard as me. It’s just experiencing something different.’While Straneva trained for and competed at the World Championships, SU track and field head coach Chris Fox thinks it helped him grow as a runner. Fox said it’s like osmosis — he was able to soak it all in, learning from some of the best runners in the world.While learning from the best, Straneva proved he is one of the best junior runners in the world, placing 45th in a field that swells to more than 100.John Straneva knows going up and training with top-notch competition is something his son needed. John said Max didn’t train very hard in high school because he was one of the top runners locally. Internationally, he was pushed to new limits.Max said the experience gave him a preview of what NCAA competition would be like. One slipup, and he could be doomed.‘The world race is kind of like the NCAAs. If you have even the slightest bad day, you’ll drop 20, 30 places,’ Straneva said.From Fox’s perspective, Straneva’s appearance in the World Championship just continues to give more credibility to the SU long-distance program.‘It just shows he’s able to compete on the highest of levels,’ Fox said, ‘which I think is going to help him help our team and help himself make All-American.’Following Straneva’s four seasons at Syracuse, he hopes to turn professional. And possibly try out for the national team again, this time at the Olympic level. Straneva said he had the chance to meet all the pro runners for Team USA, and they seemed to have a lifestyle Straneva hopes to have one day.John thinks that’s part of the reason his son chose to run at Syracuse. He thinks SU will lead his son to that dream career. Although Straneva was from a rural town growing up, coming to Syracuse and going up against top-tier competition on a daily basis will help Straneva achieve that goal.Plus, Straneva will learn from a former pro in Fox.Fox’s advice to Straneva is to have confidence. It’s something he already said Straneva is not short on.‘You just got to train hard and consistent,’ Fox said. ‘And you’ve got to believe you’re great.’[email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more