Derek Tata: Blackstone Millville Regional High School.
What do you enjoy doing outside of your running?I also enjoy road biking, hiking, and rock climbing.
What are you going to miss most about your high school running career?I'm going to miss the team the most. That group became a second family for me over the years, and the feeling of going to run with a group of forty guys in the same uniform is truly amazing. Especially where most of the team was middle school, I really felt like I was part of something special by introducing them to distance running.
What was your most memorable race?My last cross country dual meet was probably the most memorable. I have had far more impressive performances, but that day our team put three guys over the opponents top runner and I got to finish in a tie for first with my co-captain and running partner of the past four years. While I never went fast enough to be remembered for my times, and the race was only a dual meet, it was great for that to be my last time out on the home course.
Out of all your high school running accomplishments, what stands out the most?My greatest high school running accomplishment is probably the three incoming freshmen my team will have next year. They started in sixth grade, and over the past three years we got them hooked on distance running. Nothing I accomplished alone will last more than a few weeks into next season, but I'm hoping the team atmosphere I left behind will grow in the next generation of BMR runners.
What was the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?When I joined the team we struggled to put five healthy guys on the starting line. The team was weak enough for me to actually be the top guy my freshman year, and it was not anything to be proud of. Once my coach got a middle school program started a year later, the focus really became changing the team's attitude towards the sport over the actual individuals on the team. Getting the energy back and getting excited about racing was difficult, but I'm pretty sure we did it.
Do you have any advice for younger runners?Don't take it for granted. Enjoy the nervous feelings before races, enjoy the feeling of being part of the team, and enjoy having the freedom to just run. I never realized how much I loved the highs and lows of distance running until summer started and I had to get up at 5 every morning to run alone before work. I don't have a race coming up to look forward to, I only have one guy left to run with most days, and I have to fight to make time for any running I'm going to do. Enjoy being able to just show up and run.
If you were to change anything about your high school running career.....what would you change?I would probably have enjoyed the races more, sometimes I stressed too much.
What are your college plans?University of Connecticut for biomedical engineering, I'm not running on the team there but I think I would enjoy triathlons or some other races.
Who would you like to say thank you to?I want to thank my coach, Kevin Maloney. He got me into running, and without his support I would not be this confident leaving high school. I also want to thank my co-captain Evan Vadenais for putting up with me and making the miles fun. If we weren't pushing each other every day I don't think either of us would have stuck with the sport, Coach Maloney would have probably retired without starting the middle school program, and no one at BMR would get to enjoy distance running anymore. But Coach was there for us, we got the young guys excited about the sport, and now none of us want it to end.