Lukas Koch, a K-State freshman, finished his HS career at Centralia as one of the most decorated track & field athletes in Kansas high school history winning 8 individual gold medals in track and another in XC. Lukas earned himself a scholarship to KSU and just completed his freshman Cross Country season, he is preparing for his first collegiate outdoor season. Thank you Lukas for taking the time to answer a few questions.
I'm happy to do anything to promote running, but especially for KS Milesplit, it was a huge tool for me in high school.
Q1 - When did you get started in track and field and did you start out as a distance runner?
Centralia didn't offer Track until 7th grade, so that is when I formally started. But when I knew that I wanted to be a distance runner ever since I was in about 2nd grade. See in Kindergarten and 1st grade, I was the absolute slowest kid in my class (22 kids). And our P.E. teacher, Mr. Kim Tennal, he was the head/assisstant coach of the Centralia Panthers when they went on their 8 State Championships run. Mr. Tennal used to make each class run a Mile as a race, twice a year. Come 2nd grade I was still running my Mile in jeans, because I grew up on a farm, and had this strange idea that farm kids weren't supposed to wear shorts. That was the first Mile I ever won, and distance is what I have stuck with ever since.
Q2 - Winning 8 titles im sure you had plenty of D1 offers why did you decide on K-state?
The College decision is a very intense process. I talked to a few D1 school sure, but what they are looking for is times, not necessarily their previous success. I often said, "I would trade in all of the medals I have ever won, for a faster time. (Like a 4:05 1600m)" When you get to college, everyone is a State Champion, now not many have won a total of 11, but there is a young man from Missouri, on our team that won 11 individual titles, so I'm trumped there as well. K-State was the best fit for me for a few reasons. One, Coach Smith was down to earth, and I found that I could trust him. Some coaches tell you what you want to hear, and then once you commit to their school, they no longer care, Coach Smith was nothing like this at all, he was truly genuine. Two, their engineering program is one of the best in the nation. Not only are the classes preparing you for your future, but they have tons of connections for summer internships, and jobs when you get out. Three, it was close to home, so I could visit when ever I felt the need.
Q3 - Have you chosen a major and if so what is it?
My major is Mechanical Engineering. At K-State it can be paired with Nuclear Engineering, so I could graduate as a Mechanical/Nuclear Engineer, but at the moment I don't think I'll pursue the Nuclear field, so just Mechanical.
Q4 - Lukas you won 8 state titles in HS tieing you for #2 all time you are one of 12 to win 1600m 3x and one of 5 to win 3200 3x reflecting back now that you are in college how do you feel about those accomplishments?
I feel the same about my accomplishments now, as I did when I accomplished them. I see them as great stepping stools to the dreams I hope to achieve in the future. I never was one to get caught in the glamour of gold medals hanging everywhere, because I always found a reason to humble myself. There is always work to be done. When the time comes, I'll know that the end is near, and maybe then I can bask in the glory of it all, but for now, I'm still working my tail off to make Lukas Koch the best that he can possibly be.
Q5 - Who were some of the top kids from HS you ran against that you really enjoyed the compitition?
I really enjoyed running with Caden Callaway of Pike Valley, and Dylan Hodgson of Washington County. Both of these young men have tremendous careers ahead of them, I don't wanna toot any one's horn, but I believe that they will put their names on the map this year, and at the end of their senior seasons those two could be some of the best distance runners in Kansas history, in 1A or 2A for sure.
Q6 - What were a couple of your most memorable races from HS?
In Cross Country my most memorable races were my Sophomore and Senior seasons. As a Sophomore I took 9th, but it was the last time that Grandma and Grandpa Gooden ever got to to see me run. I took first as a senior, and ran 1A Cross Country Record, they I see getting broke soon. My home cross country meet, as a senior, was probably the most memorable though. It was the first time and the only time that I ran under 16:00 for the 5K. In track, there is just too many to choose. Top Three for today would be, 1- 1600m at State my Senior year, I had the crowd behind me and a plan that almost fell into place, if you saw the race, it was without a doubt a time trial, and I was just .97 seconds off of a 34 year old record. 2- The 3200 my sophomore year. I had no idea what I was doing, going into that race my PR was 10:22, after the race it was 9:47. I have yet to experience that much pain in a race again. It was my first State Championship, (in running) and at that moment in time, I wouldn't have minded if it was my last. 3- The 400's my senior year. I was training to sweep all 4 events. But I got injured a week before regionals, and it became apparent to me that that dream was not going to come true, but I'll never count my self out, it would have been very special.
Q7 - Is there anything you would do differently?
There is nothing that I would change. My life is great, not because everything goes right for me all the time, because it doesn't. But because I have family and friends that will always be here for me, whether it's running, or illness, or a job. They are part of what makes me, me.
Q8 - What is the biggest difference running in college compared to high school EXCLUDING the compititon?
The biggest difference is how the races are run. Now imagining that I was THE fastest collegiate runner, nothing would change. But even then, runners like Kennedy Kithuka, 'hands down the fastest NCAA cross country runner this season' get knocked off at Nationals. The biggest difference it how the race unfolds, the turn of events that the race takes. It is completely unpredictable. The talent in high school isn't fully developed so the races aren't so crazy. But in college, a kid like me could run with the front group for 5K, but at 5.1K, they start dropping the pace, like 4:40 pace, and the pack just pulls away, and there is nothing you can do about it, that's the main difference, so far.
Q9 - Do you have any pre-race rituals?
My pre-race rituals include listening to Christian Music, drinkings lots or water, and during track I eat toast and honey for breakfast. Other than that, I keep my cool, and stay out of the sun.
Q10 - Describe a favorite training run you have had in college?
My favorite workout in college is fartleks. I enjoyed them in high school as well. It is probably because they were familiar to me, so there wasn't a learning curve.
Q11 - What is your favorite tv show?
I really don't watch much TV, I grew up with an Antenna and 2 channels, so we spent the majority of our time outside. But American Pickers would be pretty close to the top, along with Duck Dynasty.
Q12 - Favorite food?
Well my favorite meal is steak, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, french cut green beans, and chocolate milk.
Q13 - Describe yourself in 1 word?
Q14 - What animal describes you best?
A pig probably describes me best. I grew up on a pig farm, so I've been around them for forever. They are scientifically proven as the smartest animal on earth, which is simply amazing to me, plus they eat a lot, so it's perfect.
Q15 - What advice would you give to the HS readers that are wanting to run in college?
Make the decision based on YOU. Your family and friends will always support you no matter where you go. So don't get caught up in trying to please everyone, because when you get to college there is no one to take care of you. You have to make your own decisions, so you may as well choose your college as well. Also, never give up on a dream, my Religious Education teacher once asked me, "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer is, one piece at a time. No task is insurmountable, just take it one challenge at a time.