FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – 2013 NCAA All-American Stanley Kebenei recently sat down with ArkansasRazorbacks.com to preview this weekend’s Chile Pepper Festival and discuss the 2014 season.
Q: How much of an advantage does it give you and the team in the Chile Pepper to run on a course that you train on during the season?
A: “It’s our course, so we run it every day. We’ve mastered it and know every corner of this course.”
Q: Last year you finished third in the Chile Pepper to teammate Kemoy Campbell and Texas Tech’s Kennedy Kithuka. How much would it mean to you as a senior to win the year’s event?
A: “It means a lot, but it takes hard work. Of course we have a lot of teams that will be tough, so I can’t say I’m going to be there to win. We just have to show up, put in our effort and see what happens. We’re trying to be in the top two.”
Q: Coach Bucknam said that this meet is when cross country season begins for him, so has the training regimen picked up in preparation for the Chile Pepper?
A: “Yes. We have a great group of guys who are well disciplined and epitomize hard work. It’s exciting for us and we just take it as our first meet where we’re trying to get ourselves on board and see what we can do. Chile Pepper will be our first trial to see where we’re at.”
“Yes. We always practice hard. It’s never easy. Everything we do is never easy.”
Q: Last season half the course was under water, but this year the forecast is calling for fair conditions. How much does the weather play a role in your running?
A: “I like it when it’s dry. Last year was cold, wet, and the course was a little messed up so I couldn’t put that much concentration on it. Kemoy (Campbell) and (Kennedy) Kithuka were in good shape, that’s why they didn’t care what the course looked like. Our course is good, we just had bad weather last year.”
Q: Arkansas won the Chile Pepper last season, what would it mean for you as a senior to help the Razorbacks win back-to-back titles at this meet?
A: “It means a lot. It’s our course and we’re home. It’s a tradition and we have to put it in the tradition that we have to win that meet because it’s our home meet. It’s something that we have to represent fully. We have to show our strength. It means a lot to me.”
Q: You are a senior on one of the top teams in the nation. What has it been like this season to be a senior leader on such a talented squad?
A: “It’s just the experience. Every year changes with experience. The course teaches you a lot of new stuff that you’ve never learned before. This year is all about following what coach tells me that keeps me going. I’ve changed a lot.”
Q: What are some goals the team has set? What are some goals you have set for yourself?
A: “We have a very good team. We’re trying to put everyone on board right now. Everyone is good and we’re trying to get in that line together. After we get that done, I believe that my team will be good and we will be able to represent our school.”
“Personal goals for me this year—I normally don’t set personal goals. I just go out there and do what my body responds to. I don’t want to be putting too much pressure on myself or let anyone put pressure on me and let that affect my performance. I just go over there and do whatever my body wants to do.”