Connor Rog has been garnering a massive amount of headlines this year, and with good reason. The Fairfield Prep senior earned a trip to the Foot Locker National Championships in December, was named the Gatorade Runner of the Year for Connecticut in January, and was recently invited to compete in the prestigious Millrose Games Mile.
Life is rapidly changing for Connor as the milestones of his senior year begin to accumulate in the rearview mirror. Despite the hectic schedule required to be a top tier student-athlete, Connor has agreed to chronicle his experiences for MileSplit CT in a new series we are calling the “Rog Blog”.
Hello again! Before I start ranting about my own life, I was just want to congratulate all of the pros who have been shattering records lately in the indoor track world, and a good luck to all my friends in Connecticut and across the U.S. in their state meets. It’s a pretty exciting time for everyone.
The most interesting thing that has happened to me in the running world has to be going to the Millrose Games, and I have to say, what an honor it was to be invited to run in this meet. It was really was an amazing experience.
I arrived in New York at around 5:00pm, and let me tell you, The Armory was insane. For life of me I could not find a place to sit. So I took up a spot on the 100m turn and took a couple Instagram photos while the almighty race-walk went off. It actually was an excellent race to watch, it came down the wire. Imagine being able to walk a 6:19 mile; that’s legit.
After a little while, I got a text from my friend Mike Marsella asking if I wanted to sit in the stands for a bit before we had to warm-up. I immediately joined him. The interesting thing about Mike and I is not only do we have some race history against each other, but also we will be attending the same college! Mike and I finished 1-2 at the New England Cross Country Championships, and he is a Nike Cross Country national finalist. To make it even better, we both qualified for the prestigious Millrose Mile, and we were really stoked to hang out and run against each other this weekend. It was great to finally meet his family (who were all sporting UVA gear) and get to chill with Mike for a while.
The boys high school mile started at 9:15pm, so we went outside and jogged and did some dynamic stuff for a about an hour before our race. Start time seemed to take forever as Mike and I warmed up and prepared for the race. I kept thinking about what an honor it was to be in this race and run on the same track as legends. Just before our race, we witnessed 3 records go down in the 5k race. How’s that for making history? Props to Edward Cheserek for being an insane human being.
The whole time Mike and I were warming up we couldn’t help but talk about our future as Cavaliers. We both are very excited about our recruitment class, and even when we got to the line on the track I felt like he was my teammate already. We both were getting each other pumped up for the race, I knew that he could win it, and he knew that I could push the pace in the middle of the race to knock out some of the kickers and possibly win as well. We were ready to work together.
When the gun went off and we came around the first turn, I knew this race was going out like most of the other qualifiers: slow. I immediately got myself up front to push the pace a little, and I was joined by Everett Price. We cruised along for a couple laps at a sub 4:20 pace, which I thought was pretty solid. Then at about the third lap Mike Marsella jumped in front to take the pace. That’s when things got exciting! It’s a really cool feeling being right behind your future teammate in a big race like that. It really got me excited.
Things were going very well until thesecond to last lap when the kickers started to make their charge. I am certainly not known for my kick, but I held on for dear life as the last lap came around. I saw Zavon Watkins fly by me from behind, and I could tell it was his race. Finishing up, I saw Mike pull away from the group and try to catch Zavon as he headed to the finish line, but it was too late. Mike Marsella ended up finishing in second place, and I ended up seventh.
I was very happy with how things went. Even though I would’ve liked a faster time, there’s nothing you can do about a strategic race like that, it happens. I am just very glad I did not finish last. I came in with the slowest seedtime but I had a good showing against 12 amazing runners.
After the race, my family and I headed over to Coogan’s Restaurant just a couple streets away from The Armory. Coogan’s is the classic track bar that everyone goes to after the meets, and it was especially crowded that night. I got to meet 7 time Wanamaker Mile Winner Eamonn Coghlan, and a ton of other famous athletes at the restaurant. We had an awesome time!
All in all, trip to New York was worth it. I ran a gutsy race and it was awesome to run with my future teammate Mike Marsella. It was a great event and I am honored to have been a part of the history made that night, and to have run in the most prestigious mile race in country.
Next up on my agenda is a ski trip Canada with some friends, and immediately after I’ll be flying to Seattle to run the 3,200m race at the Brooks PR Invitational. My final indoor race of the season will be at the New Balance Indoor Nationals running the DMR for my team and the 3,200.
It seems to be trending that I leave a nice song at the blog for people to listen to. Lately I’ve been obsessed with this song Deep In The Woods by Tennis and am deeply awaiting their new album.
Hello Internet world. I am apparently buzz-worthy enough to start a blog on my running life. Hope you are all satisfied.
The biggest thing that has happened in my life so far has been a college change. Yay college! I actually had the college process really easy compared to my friends. After lots of recruitment trips and talking with coaches, I applied to one school and one school only: University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. I made the verbal commitment about 2 months ago, and I was pumped. Not only did I have my decision over and done really quickly, but also I was excited to go to a really great school. It was perfect until about 3 weeks ago when I got a call from the Assistant Coach at UNC.
What happened was the Head Coach at UNC, Peter Watson, took a job he couldn’t resist at the University of Virginia. I was really shocked to hear about this. He was definitely a big part of my decision. Watson was a reasonably young guy with a successful background, an aggressive recruiter, and a really nice guy. I was pretty surprised. The Assistant Coach at UNC would be taking over for his place, a young guy who didn’t have much experience but was totally ready, and I was actually very confident in him. I told myself I would fulfill my commitment to UNC, I trusted that the new coach would be able to hold things together.
But as time went on, more and more things started to get twisted at UNC. For one, their best runner, Jake Hurysz, left to go to Colorado, and a few other runners were leaving too. Also, there were some big changes being made in the coaching staff, including the head director of track and cross-country leaving. And of course while all this was going on, Coach Watson at UVA was giving me an offer that I couldn’t find anywhere else.
I decided to take a last minute recruitment trip to Charlottesville, VA. When I got on campus, I immediately loved it. The campus was absolutely gorgeous with amazing buildings and fantastic history. “The Corner” (pictured below) which bordered the campus, was an awesome college town: lots of independent coffee shops and restaurants. It really was neat.
Aside from the town and campus, academically I was satisfied as well. UVA is an extremely prestigious school, and is one of the hardest to get into. Let’s just say, Mom was happy. Along with the academic reputation, my academic interests were fulfilled as well. UVA has a really cool arts program, where you can take a cinematography class and learn about new media studies. I am really into film and editing and I have a real passion for it. I really hope to use it in the future, and this program is going to be perfect for me. Not only will it be fun and educational, but the arts school is also super hipster, and I really hope I can find a beautiful hipster girl in there.
I had a ton of fun staying with Dave Cotton on the recruitment trip. He was living at the “Track Shack” which was the classic on-campus housing place for runners. The guys on the team were hilarious, but also really good. I got to watch them do a hard workout on the new outdoor track on Tuesday, and they looked amazing. The guys have also started a motor scooter gang called the “C-Villains”. It’s pretty much just a group of track kids who got motor scooters, which they call “hogs”, and use them as their means of transportation around campus. Parking is really bad in C-Ville, but you can park these things anywhere and get around fast. And of course, they treat it like they’re in a biker gang. It was hilarious. I’ve already gotten money out of the bank to buy my own hog.
When the visit was over I had a hard decision to make. Essentially, both schools were amazing. They both had beautiful campuses, prestigious academics, top-notch athletics, beautiful women, and great kids on the team. I just thought hard about where I would be most comfortable being for 4-5 years of my life, and where I could excel academically and athletically. After all of the thinking, I decided I was most comfortable at UVA. I didn’t feel very comfortable at first withdrawing my verbal commitment from UNC, but in my heart I knew that at UVA was the right decision. I would be going into a situation where I knew things would be okay and that I would do great and have fun.
Now that that is over and done with, I get to sign a letter of intent to UVA this Wednesday! I guess it’s going to be a big deal, I don’t know. I’m excited though.
I guess I’ll end this blog with a song that I have recently become obsessed with. Coach Watson and I really connected with our music interests. We both like that indie rock stuff, and he’s been talking me up on the music scene at UVA: pretty excited. Anyway, he turned me on to this song when he picked me up from the airport. Kind of a sad one, but the whistling part gets me every time.