Justin Hafner talks Rankings, Season Before Low Country

We talk with Bishop England's Justin Hafner before the Low Country Invitational. Hafner is ranked third in South Carolina.

How does it feel to open up the season with a PR at Eye Opener? And what does that mean to you?
It feels great starting the season off with a PR. It means that all of the work that I put in during this summer running and swimming has made me a stronger athlete.

How'd you feel lining up before the gun went off at Eye Opener?
I was very nervous before Eye Opener since it was the first 5K race of the season. I didn't know what to expect since I have not raced cross country since last November and I was trying to calm myself down before the race.

What goals do you plan on achieving this year?
I would like to consistently run low 15's or better during the season and hopefully win state this year as an individual. Another goal is to win state with my team.

What does it mean to be ranked third in state, and five seconds from a sub 15 after this past weekend?
It's crazy to be so close to a sub 15 minute 5K and to be ranked third in the state. I am glad that the summer miles and workouts are beginning to pay off.

Have you always had a passion for running? 
I started running when I was four years old and have been running almost every cross country season since then. I enjoy the challenge of training and racing. I have always enjoyed activities that include running.

When you're tired in a race, what motivates you to keep going?
When I am tired, I am motivated by the other runners in the pack with me, and by not wanting to let down my teammates.

How would you compare cross country to other facets of your life?
Cross country is similar to swimming because swimming is also a very mentally and physically tiring sport that requires a lot of dedication and mental focus.

What would you tell the younger kids who look up to you in the sport?
I would tell younger kids to stick with the sport and to continue running. The memories and bonds that are made with teammates during cross country season make it worth all of the effort.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
This is a tough question. There are so many possibilities. Perhaps I'll be running for a college team, visiting new places, and meeting new people everywhere I go. Hopefully I will also be nearing the end of my under-graduate degree.