Interview 2 with Scott C. Lengefeld - March 27, 2000
A Conversation with Scooter
A Conversation with Scott Lengefeld
When Scott and (a little later) I crossed the finish line at the NCAA Cross Country Championships, we fulfilled a long-time dream. I remember tearing around to find Scott after I was finally allowed through the finish shoot. Scott had just become the first Cross Country All-American in A&M history, and all he could say when I found him – with tears dripping down his face – was “It’s so sad.”
And it really is. It is sad that, soon, the team will not have the benefit of his constant presence. Only memories will be left. And there are many of them…you know the sound I’m talking about (on the sheets), you know what he did in that sauna (on the rocks), you know about the night before District (with the lamp shade), his 21st birthday, the helicopter (what’s that?), and (you may not know about) “Oh My”. The list goes on. (And, by the way, if you don’t know – don’t ask, because these stories stay in Room XXX). There are few who are such downright good people, yet also so naughty (oh, the things you don’t know, Sandra). His legacy will not live on the track alone.
As for his legacy on the track, however, there is much to talk about. A 9:24 high school two-miler, Scooter surprised everyone with an outstanding freshman cross country season. He finished 27th at District and went on to run 14:59 during track. He steadily improved with an 11th place finish at District during his sophomore year and a 14:35 on the track. As a junior, he finished 16th at District, ran 8:23 indoor, and red-shirted outdoor. During his 4th year, under Dave Hartman for the first time, Scott pulled off a 14:20 5k in a time trial while red-shirting cross country. Scott managed a 14:16 at the Penn Relays and a 3rd place finish in the 5k at conference during his 3rd outdoor season. Breakthroughs abound as he closed out his collegiate cross country career with a 21st place finish at Pre-nationals, 4th at Big 12, 3rd at District, and 14th at the NCAA Championship. Scott began his last collegiate indoor and outdoor campaigns this spring with a 14:09 indoor 5k, good for conference runner-up, and a whopping automatic qualifier of 29:02 in the 10k at Stanford. And there are no signs of him leveling off. In fact, he seems to “breakthrough” more and more lately.
It is truly amazing the way Scott has become one of the top college athletes in the U.S. – and only second to Arturo (the guy who ran Reactor every morning) in A&M history. But, many other people have run faster than Scott. What many people have not done – and what is much more incredible – is to be the kind of person he is, and also run fast.
Someone (I forget who – maybe Joe Torres) said this about my childhood hero, Dale Murphy of the Atlanta Braves: “If you’re a coach, you want him as an athlete; if you’re a player, you want him as a teammate; if you’re a father, you want him as a son – what else can you say about the guy.” This is Scooter.
Scott is unique in so many ways, but I think a few, in particular, are highlighted in this interview. You’ll see that he is his mamma’s boy – but also likes to have a good time, that he likes the ladies, his team, and his coach, that he has an exceptionally keen sense of racing, and that he is more interested in his team than himself.
Here is a closer look at everyone’s favorite Aggie, Scott Lengefeld…
E: Scooter, how did it all get started?
S: My first race was in 5th grade. I wore shirt that said “Great Scott” – my mom made me wear it…I won and I was crying after.
Then, in 7th grade, my basketball coach made me run cross…I begged my mother to get me out of this…I said, “Mom, I don’t want to run a 2 mile race.” Anyway, I won the race, and never lost a race in middle school
Then, in high school I won my first race at the Woodlands…The next meet I run into the twins and experience my first defeat at the hands of Brad Hauser.
E: What about the time you beat Brent Hauser?
S: Fox calls it my claim to fame. Brad was injured which was a huge advantage…And, I later heard from Monty that, Ed says, “If I was a betting man, I’d pick Hauser, but I just like Lengefeld.” I just sat on Brent, he had to hurdle a pole vault on last lap…I saw the opening and passed him.
E: Tell about your first encounter with your freshman year roommate, the infamous TP.
S: My dad goes up to TP and says, “So, are you hanging on to any women from Washington?” And, TP – you know how he always has a line – goes “No strings attached!”
E: What about your first encounter with Hinze?
S: It was Labor Day, which I thought was cool…When I talked to him, I thought he said “Menze.” I told my mom that Menze from A&M called. My mom was in the bathtub (he walked in on her). My mom said (infuriated), “Scott!!”…They wanted me to go to Baylor.
E: What was your first impression of Hinze?
S: My friend from high school, Kehoe, said, “he’s mean.” The first time I felt the wrath was on the bus after UTSA.
E: What was your first impression of the older guys on the team?
S: I was envious of Menze’s form. He looked like someone you’d see on TV (good prediction, Scott, he is now a road warrior bound for “Running and Racing” on ESPN)…Then, Monty was one of the reasons I came to A&M.
E: What about your first memory of Todd Fox?
S: He got sixth on the team at the UTSA meet. The first thing I heard him say about the race was, “Hinze fucked me! I should have gone to Vanderbilt.”
E: What is your best team memory from freshman year?
S: At conference, on the golf course at Baylor, we were running really well, and Hinze was jumping high in the air, yelling. That got me pumped…now I do that in races to pump the runners up.
E: What were your thoughts approaching your sophomore year?
S: I thought, I’ve got to be Matt Priest II…At the time trial, it was time to showcase your skills to the new ladies on the team. Several occasions after that, in races, I think of when I didn’t let go in that time trial, only because of the women.
E: Fill us in on that classic experience at Iowa St., the second one, that is.
S: That was the beginning of my other side…we won the race and later Christian is bragging about my (Scott goes silent, but what do you think Christian was talking about)… I’m feeling like a big guy. Finally, Christian, Monty, and Todd are going to the microbrewery…and they have the same waitress as the year before. At first, I’m just drinking water…Fox is like, “I love this!” about the samples of beer they were drinking…Finally – if I would have just said no – Monty ordered me an Alabama Slammer…I was a binge drinker from day one! I hammered two or three of those things…we go back in and ask if we can please get into the pool…Then, it gets naughty…we go skinny dipping in there, then we jump in the river – I kept my boxers on. A couple of them run across the bridge nude…That stood out as my period of becoming a drinker. Then, I would drink and take like two months off.
E: Tell about your early experiences with the ladies.
S: Sophomore year, there was a new girl on the team…I thought, I need to run well at this time trial, get off on a good foot…I need to run well to try to impress her, maybe I can hold some hands later on. Unfortunately for her, I didn’t wear the right uniform…After she saw me as all-American, she probably changed her mind…
Flirtation-wise, on Day 1, Valerie comes up to me outside Evans Library. She told me that the girls took a vote and they liked my legs. So, I’m in the weight room, just pumping the leg weights the next day…Hinze saw me and told me to take it easy on the legs…
I thought…I may make a move on these girls…I figured by the time I’m a fifth year senior, I’ll at least be dating one of them…
The younger the girls get, the more I like to flirt with them…
I might have a slight reputation as a flirt, but personally, I think I get a bad rap about the flirting thing. I just like to make people smile – and I like to flirt. I let these two things blend together.
RACING AND OTHER STUFF
E: When was your first breakthrough race?
S: With hinze…during our first cross season we went to Vanderbilt and got third. I was only 17 seconds behind Priest. I’m thinking, this is going to be easy.
E: Is there a defining race that told you: I’m going to be a stud?
S: (Laughing) Ever since I got my aggie ring, I’ve run really well…I know all of my times and places since that day.
That Thursday (after I got my ring), I went to Penn and ran 14:16. That was a huge race for me, breaking out of that indoor slump…It was my initial run to get hot…
Then, Prenats was a definite breakthrough during cross…I was 6th place at 5k and finished 21st. That made me think that I can run with people I’ve always looked up to. I wasn’t quite as intimidated the next time I was out at Nationals. I used to always gauge my success by others runners around TX. Now, I was trying to be a good national runner instead of being a good regional runner.
E: Tell about your experience during the race at Nationals.
S: I remember getting to the 800, turning left, and seeing a lot of people in front of me. I thought, I could waste a great season here. I remember Hartman said, don’t slow down, just start passing people and get up with that lead pack and hang on. When I got up there, they didn’t really put any moves in and I felt wonderful. I stayed with them till 7000…we train too hard to die, so with 2k to go, I said, ‘there is no way I’m going to lose six spots’ (after someone said you’re in fourteenth).
E: Were you surprised to be with that pack of immortals?
S: Well, one of my first thoughts was: where’s the tv camera? I kept looking for the tv camera…
I didn’t feel like I didn’t belong…I had just been hot for like a month…I felt great when I got up there…my breathing wasn’t that bad, I didn’t sound any worse than the other people around me…I was too afraid to look back, nervous that tons of people were behind me…I got passed by one person – Broe – from 5k on, and I passed another person to make up for that…It was a great feeling running with that group.
E: Talk more about racing.
S: My thoughts on racing develop from workouts. Hartman taught me that the race just begins at halfway. So, be in position at the start of the race…But, when you’re at halfway, that’s when the race is just beginning…
I think the workouts are one of the things I’m going to miss the most…just bending over and barely being able to catch your breath after a workout, just laying your body on the line. You have to put your body further along then anyone training for the same race…
I’m the product of a good system – a good coach, a great team to train with, and a great looking women’s team…
You know that when a move is made at Dogwood – that is when the women are near…you want to be in full stride when you go by the girls…sometimes my thought process in workouts is not where it needs to be…
I want everyone to know the most that I love to go out and have an adult beverage…everybody says do everything in moderation…you can’t run in moderation, moderate other things in life…alcohol, pizzas, and you’re going to be successful…
I play games with myself, I will do anything to push myself to the limit. For instance, at certain points in an 8 mile tempo, I want to be there faster than last time I did this workout, and I almost always am.
E: What kind of advice do you have for the younger Aggies?
S: If I had any advice to someone who wanted to run…training hard is a given, every team has people who train hard and don’t break through, because that’s only part of it. You have to get in a race and don’t think anything but contact…you have to think it in workouts too. The moment you let go, it’s almost 90% sure you’re not going to make it up. That’s my motto – don’t let go. That’s what I kept thinking in the 10k at Stanford when people started to pass.
E: What’s the best advice Hartman has ever given you?
S: There are almost too many to give. The things he’s helped me with most are racing – huge help. Being a good racer is not just hopping in a race and having a good game plan. You build good racing habits every Tuesday and Thursday in workouts…
He taught me to go negative or even in every race…don’t lead a race, that’s stupid. He has been very beneficial with my racing.
E: Why has he been so good?
S: First, he’s more talented than I am…He could have run 29:02 easily if he had the opportunity. Some people have the ability to connect with there athletes – and be able to understand what they’re about to do before they workout or race…
He also works well with different levels of ability.
E: Talk about the support of Sandra and Curtis.
S: They missed my 10k, my mother was sick about it. I have probably the best support of anyone ever to be an athlete at A&M. They have maybe missed five meets since I’ve been here…
They love being team parents, my mother loves seeing everyone eat her cookies…
Her advice is “run smart,” and that’s not a bad quote.
E: To what do you attribute your accomplishments over the last couple of years?
S: One reason is definitely the coach. I also fell in love with the team…Being around a good group of guys made me really want to work harder…you become so close to people on a team and things just come together….In cross, that was sweet, when I crossed the line in third, I knew I was going to nationals, but that was not that exciting…it was when I saw other guys coming in that I got really excited….Having guys so close together that you don’t want to let anyone down on that team is important….This team is one of the reasons I’ve become successful…every reason why I was successful was not because of me.
When I saw Weldon Johnson at Stanford and he told me how great I have been doing, I thought, you don’t need to tell me that (as if someone else deserves the credit…). Immediately after he said that, I told him, “This is my coach, Dave Hartman.” I’m coached better than everyone else.
E: What has been your best race up to this point in your career?
S: The best race for me was at nationals, because it put a smile on everyone’s faces…seeing how excited everyone was, I live for that. I want to see my teammates get excited because I want the program to take off…I want them to think of our program as something that going to keep growing. Nationals is definitely the race I would look back and think fondly of and talk about forever.
There have been so many great races, like regionals…when after we finally know a year and half of hard work together has paid off. We reached a team goal with 20 other guys…
And, having 15 to 20 other Aggies that weren’t even racing at regionals – that says something about how successful the team will be in the future.
We care about November.
E: If you could tell the incoming freshman one thing, what would that be?
S: I’d be like, ‘Hey everybody, introduce yourself and I want everyone to talk about themselves, because the thing that makes me run harder is my teammates.’
And listen to your coach. We probably should have listened more to Hinze.
E: Last weekend, you ran an automatic qualifier in the 10k. Talk about the race itself and your feelings about the race.
S: It feels really good to get an auto this early in the season…
Before the race, I’m watching the 5k thinking these guys are going really fast…
I really felt like I belonged out there, not like last year at Stanford…
I told myself, ‘you’re ready, just go out there an relax the first two miles, then hang on…I know I would have broken 29 if I had better bowel movement before the race…10,000 meters is a long way to carry an extra 12 ounces…
Vin had some interesting thoughts before the race. He’s like, “Everyone in this race is good. If you believe that, you will run fast today.” It was a simple sentence, but in that moment, it clicked with me. I’m thinking, ‘run like you deserve to be here…let’s run a good time for this program.’
It was cool the way Hartman would call TP on his cell phone and TP would pass along my splits on the bus (coming home from the LSU meet during Scott’s race). Hearing all of them on the bus was so cool…
In case I ran well, I had a conversation with you already thought out. I live to enjoy good races with teammates. Our team is so selfless that they get excited about everyone else…
E: What about the race itself?
S: We started at 70’s – low, and I’m thinking, I’m not feeling that great. But, Hartman said, ‘don’t worry if it’s 70’s, just relax’ (Scott wanted to run 69’s early on). I took about 4 laps in the lead and came through about 14:30…then, Friedburg took over…I thought to myself, keep fighting…Monty and Hartman were yelling, ‘stay with them!’ I’m thinking, I can’t let go of that pressure level…I’m at it earlier than I want to be…don’t let go…hang on! With 2 laps to go, I’m at 26:45. I thought, how many times in practice have I run under 2:20. I’m like, run a 70, then I can kick. I went 70, 66.
When I came down the straightaway, I saw the clock…it was a great feeling. I enjoyed hearing Monty talking to Fox on his cell phone.
After, all I could think was – Man, that hurt really bad…
I really struggled that last 5k – 68’s really hurt.
E: How about your plans for the near future?
S: Monty helped me get a job in Palo Alto. Ideally, I’d run with the Farm and get a cool jersey. But, right now I’m completely focused on this season. At nationals I’ll be thinking about place…for the rest of season I’m going to build for that…I’m trying to run under 28:50, whether or not that gets me to the Trials…That’s something I wouldn’t mind doing for myself.
E: And what about 10 years from now?
S: The popular consensus is that I’m going to be the fattest on the team. I don’t see myself being a road warrior – no offense. I’ll probably be back in TX working. I wish I could say I’d be training for the Games, but that’s not in the plans…
I see myself being a die-hard Aggie (oh…really)…
I’m a family kind of guy…I hope I have boys, because if I have girls, I will always remember my college days…
I want to be bringing 25 presents home in a Santa Claus outfit. I’ll probably even do an Easter Bunny outfit…I’m definitely going to be a little league coach…my kids have to go to A&M.
E: What legacy would you like to leave?
S: None by myself…with you and TP and other seniors, being what set this program in the direction it’s headed…to be remembered as the ones who got it all started.
Individually, I want to be remembered for enjoying other aspects of college…
But, not as a flirt…the girls will probably be glad to see me graduate because they’re sick of my cheap lines, but I’m being honest.
E: Any final thoughts?
S: I need to end it with the reporter – the things you did for me helped my running…indoor was a test for me – I did not want to run anymore, but I had to run or I would have felt like the biggest jerk to you. The workouts are the things I’m going to miss in college…looking over after a workout, seeing your chest just exploding…
editor's note - After track Scott will be out of eligiblity, and he will graduate in May
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