Dublin High School Senior Anirudh Surapaneni Caps Off Cross Country Career on a High Note
DUBLIN, CA–Dublin High School Senior Anirudh Surapaneni wrapped up his remarkable cross country season, finishing in sixth place with a time of 15:26 and leading his team to a 4th place finish at the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships. The runner-up in the 2016 EBAL and NCS Championships, Anirudh became the first Dublin High School athlete to compete in three Cross Country State Championships, the first to medal at States after nearly a decade, and the third Gael ever to make it to the podium.
Here, Anirudh reflects on his experiences running cross country and track for the past four years, and shares some advice for aspiring Gael runners.
Neha Harpanhalli: What drives you to run? When did you begin running competitively?
Anirudh Surapaneni: “Originally, running was more of an “on the side” sport for me to do after my summer classes here at DHS. Swimming was my main sport….[and] while I had run middle school track, I never ran competitively. I joined thanks to the encouragement of some of my friends who also went out to practice.
“I run for everyone who supports me, be it my parents, coaches or teammates. I know they have my back every time I race, so I am determined to train hard to show them how much their support means to me. Every time people come out to support us from the sidelines, I feel proud to be a DHS runner and motivated to race my best.”
Harpanhalli: How do you mentally prepare yourself for a competition? Did you have to change any aspect of your training to attain the success that you’ve gotten this season?
Surapaneni: “There’s definitely a lot that goes into the preparation for a race. I have my personal routines and superstitions to help prepare me mentally, but what really helps me is my trust in my coaches and training. Given the team’s accomplishments in the earlier parts of the season, we came to a consensus that everything we were doing training-wise was benefitting us. The team and I attribute our success to the hard work we have put in and therefore saw no need to change any aspects of what we were doing.”
Harpanhalli: Do you plan to take running with you to college and beyond?
Surapaneni: “Yes! I do plan on running in college for both cross country and track. I’ve narrowed my school choices down to a few and am taking official visits to these schools. My main priority is academics, but I hope to be a part of a program that resembles the one we have here at DHS.”
Harpanhalli: Do you have any hobbies or interests besides running?
Surapaneni: “I still do enjoy lots of sports, especially basketball and soccer. While I don’t play competitively anymore, it’s always fun to go out with friends and pick up a game.”
Harpanhalli: What would you consider to have been the highlight of your running career?
Surapaneni: “It’s a tough call, but I’d have to say qualifying for states in track was the highlight of my career. Going in, I had no idea if I could qualify or not. That race was the embodiment of my running career: everything I learned and experienced throughout my 3 seasons played out in that race, and ultimately I was able to qualify with a school record in the two mile.”
Harpanhalli: What would you like your teammates and future Gael runners to take away from your accomplishments?
Surapaneni: “The future of our program will have ten times as much success [as I’ve had]. Being part of a talented yet young team gives me the responsibility to serve as a standard for all aspiring runners to strive for. I want to leave a mark on our growing program for future Gael runners to achieve and surpass. I hope for all future DHS cross country athletes to know that with dedication and belief in our system, they too can achieve success.”
Harpanhalli: Finally, any advice for runners who are just starting out?
Surapaneni: “Running isn’t something to be afraid of. Many people have a stigma against running because it is difficult. Running still remains difficult for me, but I’ve learned to embrace it and allow it to motivate me towards success. No matter how challenging the sport is, every team member is always working together to get better. Many people don’t see running as a team sport, but it really is. It all starts out with new runners learning to appreciate the sport and motivating themselves to become not just better athletes, but better teammates as well.”