When did you first start running, and do you recall any of your childhood races?
I began running track in 8th grade. I wasn't drawn to straight sprints so I started out on the 110 hurdles. I remember falling in all four of my first races. What stood out to me the most was the encouragement that I received from my coaches and teammates to get up, finish the race, and keep trying.
Was there a certain moment when you realized you'd be able to compete at such a high level?
For me, things started to click during the indoor season of my junior year. The repetition and improvement in technique helped me significantly raise my level of performance. I was able to match or improve on personal bests at every meet throughout the season. For the first time, I saw how the hard work and consistency that I was putting into training paid off on the track and runway.
What are some bumps in the road that you've encountered when it comes to training for different events during the season?
One of the biggest challenges I've come across while training is learning time management and prioritizing as a student-athlete. Running multiple events would sometimes force me to determine which practice I should attend. I had to factor in what I needed to prioritize in training, recovery, and rehab all while balancing a rigorous academic schedule.
How has COVID impacted your training this winter as you prepared for the season?
As with all student-athletes, Covid has had a tremendous impact on my preparation. I have had to learn to be more independent, staying disciplined in my training and nutrition while continuously working to build up my confidence so that when things get back to "normal" I am prepared to perform at a high level. I have worked with my teammates on finding new and creative ways to push ourselves to improve despite not actually having meets. I have thankfully had the good fortune to work independently with Paul Snyder on my pole vaulting technique, which is an opportunity that I am very grateful for.
How is the college recruiting process going, and what schools are you looking at?
College recruiting has been going well but there have also been some challenges. Due to COVID, I have had no official times or heights recorded for outdoor since the spring of my sophomore year, making it hard for coaches to really evaluate where I am currently and to see the gains I have made. I have had to maximize my online presence and be proactive in conversations with coaches and other student-athletes.
Where are you going to college? If you have already committed, what made you choose them?
I have recently been admitted to several schools, in the coming weeks I plan on visiting the ones I have yet to see in person and am hoping to make my decision by early March. Track and field will play a significant role in my decision but ultimately I will pick the school that I feel best fits not only my athletic but also my academic and long-term goals.
Is there another track event you wish you were good at? What is appealing about it?
I think Decathalon is an event that I would love to excel at. The necessity of possessing a high level of physical fitness, strength, and endurance are just a few traits that make decathletes some of the best all-around athletes in the world.
What are some hobbies and interests you have outside of running?
I enjoy almost everything that has to do with the outdoors and travel. I have a passion for hiking, fishing, surfing, and in general anything that takes place in nature. I am the happiest when exploring new things and experiencing new adventures with friends and family.
Who is your role model, and why?
I draw my inspiration from a wide range of role models. I have been fortunate enough to be influenced by a cadre of teachers, coaches, family, and friends who have been able to help guide me not just by their words and advice, but by embodying the traits and behaviors that have helped make me the person that I am today.
Everyone has a bucket list, so give us some of the things on your list!
Besides the goal of graduating from college and working in a field that allows me to work with and give back to my community, I also have some personal goals of visiting every National Park in the U.S. as well as catching a fish in all 50 states!
What is the best advice you have received?
"Failure is not the opposite of success, it's part of it." Failure is unavoidable and you have to follow the process. Learn everything you can from it and start associating your failure with inching closer to success.
What is your favorite pre-race snack, tradition, etc.?
My favorite pre-race snack is dried mangos. My adrenaline is usually running pretty high before competing so I have some pre-race/jump routines that help me calm myself and visualize the event.
If you could do a sport other than XC/Track, what sport would it be, and why?
A sport that I really enjoy watching is freestyle snowboarding for the simple reason that it looks like it would be a lot of fun. It's a sport that like pole vault takes a certain amount of fearlessness and tenacity mixed with technique and repetition to perfect.
Chen's High School Personal Bests
|110 Meter Hurdles||17.38|
|300 Meter Hurdles||44.80|
|55 Meter Hurdles||8.47|
|200 Meter Dash||29.24|