19. That is the sum total of Junior Cross Country runner Sean Gildea’s finishes through the entire 2011 season. If he placed nineteenth in just one race, he would, on average, still place higher than 85% of the competitors.
Gildea has finished in the top ten in eight races in his career and placed first overall twice in the 2011 season. Saturday, the junior double majoring in Mechanical and Environmental Engineering finished eighth overall at the NCAA Division II Regional Championships while leading the Orediggers to a third place finish behind powerhouse programs Adams State and Western State.
On November 19, Gildea and the Orediggers will compete for the Division II National title. In 2009, Mines finished 3rd overall while Gildea came in forty-sixth in 32:45 as a true freshman. In 2010, Mines finished fourth while Gildea moved up to thirteeth (31:32). Now Gildea is in his third season as an Oredigger and looks to build on his already stellar resume by helping Mines chase down Adams and Western State.
For his efforts and successes throughout his career as an Oredigger, Gildea is this week’s Athlete of the Week.
[Oredigger] How does Colorado compare to California?
[Gildea] Well, I love it here next to the mountains. It’s beautiful, but I don’t think that it’s better than having the sun year round.
What do you love about running?
I don’t know, I guess it’s just running with other people. You’re all out there, doing the most natural thing we as humans do. And it gets your mind off of other stuff, which is really nice here at Mines.
How do you balance running and academics?
It’s really tough. Cross country takes up so much time, with two hours a day for practice and morning runs and Saturday meets. It’s kind of like a job sometimes. But, a lot of guys get together to study when they have the same classes, and not skipping class helps too.
What has been your favorite class so far?
I really enjoyed EPICS II. We had a really cool project. We had to design a transportation capsule that [moved] through a tube that was air resistance free, energy free; it was just cool. And I really liked doing SolidWorks too.
How has your role on the team changed this year?
Definitely more of a leadership role. But, I try to make the program fun, ’cause that’s what it’s all about. We hang out a lot, have pasta parties before races, and I just try to always motivate everyone, in practice and races.
What is your favorite type of practice?
Well, [the team] will hate me, but the M-Climb. The M is halfway for us. It’s 5.1 miles, all uphill ’til we finish at Buffalo Bill’s Grave. I just love it, I love hills, and it’s great.
What is the nerdiest thing you have seen on campus?
Probably that zombies game they play. I saw a guy with, like, a seven foot sword and all decked out in nerf gear. The funniest would probably be that guy that dressed up as Pacman [for] Halloween last year.
Has the nerdiness seeped into your practices?
Well, we definitely talk about school way too much and get into debates way too often. Once we all got into a debate about what the actual composition of a snowflake was.
What do you enjoy most about the team?
It’s a group of guys that you know and love to be around. Everyone knows everyone and we’re all so close. It’s just fun to be around them.
What advice would you give incoming student athletes?
Learn to get stuff done when it’s supposed to be done, while having fun. And don’t skip classes.