Graduating from Valley Christian in 2009, Jennifer Bergman is attending the University of Arizona and has been the #1 runner for the Wildcats the past two races at the Pac-10 Championship and the West Regional where they qualified for their second consecutive NCAA Championship. She recently finished 7th at the Pac 10 Championship and followed that up with a 9th place finish at the West Regional in Eugene. In high school, Bergman was a three time CCS Champion and qualified for the Footlocker National Championship her senior year where she finished 33rd. Her WCAL record of 17:16 at Crystal Springs is currently #11 all-time in the course 40 year history.
Q: This year has been huge for the University of Arizona as you are currently ranked #9 in the nation and are on your way to your second NCAA Championship. What is the difference between this year and last?
Well, this year racing has been a lot more fun than last year because I’m not stuck in the middle of a couple hundred girls anymore; I've been racing up with the leaders. I couldn’t believe I was running next to Jordan Hassay at Regionals! I think the biggest improvement was my summer training and I actually try and sleep this semester. I always think during races that I need to feel like hell now or I’ll feel like hell after.
Q: I love it! "Feel like hell now or feel like hell later!"
That’s how it is! Races hurt and if they don’t you're not pushing hard enough!
Q: What did you do differently this summer to prepare for the cross country season?
Going into summer I was worried about my summer training because I was in Austin for the first time and had NO ONE to run with and no idea where to do runs. I think that ended up helping me out because it made me mentally tough and all my workouts this year have been great. We also had a lot of double days, either an easy run in the evening or cross training. I definitely did a lot of swimming and biking. I usually swam a little after workouts to shake my legs out. You can never go wrong with swimming or aqua jogging!
Q: Looking back, what kind of things have you done this year differently that has helped you make the jump to being one of the top runners in the NCAA?
I am getting more sleep! Last year I was in the dorms, and if Liz and I went to bed by 11 we were proud of ourselves. Since we have 6 am or 6:30 am practice every morning I never got 8 hours of sleep. This year I’m probably in bed by 9:30 every night. Now I’m not tired all day so my running and grades have improved! However I’ll never be one of those runners that are in bed by 9:30 on Saturday nights! Happy runners = fast runners!
Q: In your Flo-Track interview after the Pac-10 Championship you mentioned your team chemistry. Can you talk a little about that?
It’s defiantly all about the team for us. We talk to each other during every race, like if I’m running behind Hannah I make sure she knows I’m behind her. The best was when there were six of us in a pack at Pac-10s in the front group. It’s comforting to have my teammates around me in a race. Our team is very close, we all live in 3 different houses (the dorms for the freshmen) and we're together every day of the week even when we don’t have practice or a meet.
Q: What advice would you give to younger runners trying to improve and breakthrough to the next level?
On our goal sheet one of our quotes is "it’s the little things that add up to a lot." Trying to get 8 hours sleep, eating somewhat healthy, and taking care of your legs do add up eventually. Tell Emily and Morgan to elevate their legs the night before or the morning of their race next weekend. Liz and I do it every race for good luck!
Q: What is the hardest workout you have done at the University of Arizona?
At the end of the summer we had to do fartlick workouts that were 10 minutes on and 2 minutes off. Those were hard every time but the hardest one was when we were in flagstaff for training. I think it was a mixture of the altitude and a couple guys on the team were pushing us the whole time.
Q: In high school you were famous (maybe infamous) for your hill sessions all year round. Do you feel that helped you be a better runner and high school and ultimately help you develop into the runner you are today?
Even though I don't do hills anymore, I would never take back the “Bergman Hill” workouts I did every weekend in high school. My goal was always to make it to footlocker nationals in high school and those hills got me more than ready for the Regional race at Mt. Sac, and that’s why Crystal was always my favorite course. Plus there are no workouts I can’t handle now!
Q: Tell us a little about your Coaches at the University of Arizona and how they have helped you as a runner?
Coach Li and Coach Erin are both very different and I couldn't ask for better coaching. Coach Li has coached and is coaching some of the best athletes in the world so I trust he knows exactly what he’s doing. And Coach Erin acts like our mom sometimes, she likes to get in our business but if we ever need anything she’s always there. She’s also the best cheerleader during races; there has not been one college race where I haven’t heard her running around screaming at us! It’s awesome.
Q: You have faced some major obstacles in high school from knees that kept you in the pool (forcing you to sit out your sophomore year), to catching mono at the end of your senior year. Yet every time you seem to bounce back better and stronger. Do you feel going through these challenges have made you a stronger person?
Absolutely. Unfortunately, every runner is going to get banged up or injured at some point, and it is how you handle it that makes you better. I have foot tendinitis right now and it isn’t slowing me down one bit!
Q: Lastly, why should someone come and run for the University of Arizona?
This is a very hard question because it’s more like why not? No one on our team was a superstar runner in high school, but now we're running faster than the teams that got all the superstars like Oregon and Washington. I can’t imagine being anywhere else and I promise anyone would love it here!
Bergman's Bio: http://www.arizonawildcats.com/sports/w-xc/mtt/bergman_jennifer00.html
Wildcat Article (2009): http://www.arizonawildcats.com/sports/w-xc/spec-rel/112209aab.html