RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — All those people who think of cross country as an individual sport haven’t asked Ramstein senior Kenny Grosselin and his Royals teammates.
“For the whole experience, I’d have to say I like cross country more [than track and field],” said Grosselin, who is the reigning European 3,000-meter champion on the track.
“When it comes to race day, I like track, because you know exactly what you have to do. Each lap has to be precise.
“The rest of the time, though, I like cross country. There’s more camaraderie. We’re all running together all the time.”
And together usually means in front of the pack.
Along with Grosselin, his teammates — Parker Cowles, Danny Edwards, Noah Sheppard, and Rob Cochran — dominated last spring’s European track and field distance events.
And they show no signs of slowing done this fall off the track. The Royals have won, by stunning margins, both of their meets this season.
On their home course on Sept. 13, Ramstein’s boys swept the first four places en route to a 21-67 victory over runner-up Heidelberg. Last Saturday at Patch, they scored 27 points to Heidelberg’s 49 and Grosselin again led the pack.
“He’s been doing all the right things,” Ramstein coach Steve Meadows said. “Kenny works hard all year round, and it shows.”
Grosselin said he trains year round.
“In summer, I take it easy — base-building and keeping my cardiovascular fitness,” he said. “When the season starts, I start going to bed sore, working hard and running a lot of hills.”
This summer’s base-building included a stint at an Air Force Academy cross country camp along with Cowles, the bronze medalist at last year’s European cross country meet.
“Parker and I are both interested in the academy,” Grosselin said, “and we got to know the academy and the coaches. I learned a lot about the lifestyle — eating right, advice on training and taking care of injuries.”
For Grosselin, it was his first experience at altitude.
“There’s a big sign that says
‘You’re at 7,000 feet — air is rare,’” Grosselin said, “and it was a definite challenge. The first couple of days you’d feel it even climbing stairs.”
Back at sea level, though, Grosselin’s Rocky Mountain high of a summer might weigh a bit on the other contenders for a European title — David Forte of SHAPE, John Slappy of Wiesbaden, and the rest of Grosselin’s Ramstein teammates.
Plus, there could be a dark horse or two.
“There’s always someone from Italy we don’t know about who shows up and runs fast,” Meadows said.
Grosselin’s not worried about the European championship, however.
“There’s no pressure on me,” he said, “because I’ve never performed all that well at Europeans.”
Never better than an 11th-place last season, which most runners would consider a career highlight.
Expect him and his Royals teammates to create new highlights on Oct. 25 when they take on the rest of the field at this year’s Europeans.