AMES, Iowa – When Mohamed Hrezi came to Iowa State two years ago from Central Connecticut State, he knew he was probably done running the 800 meters. However, he never thought he’d be competing at this week’s NCAA West Track and Field Regional in Austin, Texas in the 5,000 and 10,000-meter runs.
Hrezi will run the 10,000-meters on Thursday at 9:40 p.m. CDT, and will run the 5,000 meters on Saturday at 8:45 p.m. in Mike A. Meyers Stadium.
“When I transferred here (Head Coach Corey Ihmels) told me, ‘your 800 days are over,’ so I knew that coming in,” Hrezi said. “I thought I was going to be a 1,500-meter guy.”
For a time, he was correct. Hrezi ran the 1,500 and 3,000-meter race during the 2011-2012 season, which included second-place finish in the 1,500 at the Jim Duncan Invitational with a time of 3:47.31. Ihmels said that initially the coaching staff had no intentions of making Hrezi into a runner of longer distances.
“I think it started just in conversation, we were kind of giving him a hard time about maybe being a 10k runner,” Ihmels said. “Before we knew it, we were actually seriously thinking about it and talking about it. I think when you have somebody on your team that is a 1:46 guy in the 800 in Edward Kemboi, you kind of realize quickly that maybe that’s not your best event.”
Ihmels added that once Hrezi had decided to he was going to be running the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, he had to be committed to increasing his training and his mileage. To do this, the junior ran his first-ever season of college cross country in which he won the Cyclone Classic and had a top-20 finish at the Big 12 Championships.
“He really took to the mileage and had a huge block of training,” Ihmels said. “I think it was just a matter of getting him convinced that he was capable of putting in the work to run the 10k.”
Hrezi also made the decision to redshirt the 2012-13 indoor season in an effort to prepare himself for the outdoor campaign.
“It was just more of everything,” Hrezi said of how he changed his training regimen. “I had to wake up every morning just knowing that I had to do 20 or 26 miles that day and just get through it. That’s opposed to when I was an 800 runner where I could just do a five-mile run.”
The Naugatuck, Conn. native has seen his hard work payoff this season, as he earned All-Big 12 honors with a fifth-place finish in his first 10,000-meter race with a time of 29:25.17 at the Big 12 Championships. He also took sixth-place in the 5,000-meter race at the Big 12 Championships.
“He stuck his nose in at the conference meet and I think his next 10k will be better than his first,” Ihmels said. “He just needs to run like he did at the conference meet. If he puts himself out there and gets in the mix, I think it will come down to getting one of those spots to get to the next level (the NCAA Championships).”
Hrezi will need to place in the top-12 of the field in Austin, Texas this week to advance to the NCAA meet June 5-8 in Eugene, Ore.
“The field is so close that I feel like I can get in if I’m in the race,” Hrezi said. “I feel like I will have enough speed if I can hang on until the end. My first 10k ever, I went out really hard and if I can just do that again and just hold on to top-12, I’ll be in nationals.”