DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for nearly four decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Energetic Weiss goes the distance for Xavier

After she graduates soon and leaves Xavier Prep, Tessa Weiss will head off to Cambridge, Mass., home of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
She plans to study at the engineering school (chemical engineering) and focus on new sources of energy. Perhaps she also can help to develop ways to make current sources such as gasoline more efficient.
As a distance runner at Xavier, Weiss had plenty of energy. She knew when to conserve it, and when to hit the gas.
The approach served her well, and led to two championship performances in the recent Division I state meet at Mesa Community College.
Weiss won the 1,600-meter run in 4:51.78 and the 3,200-meter run in 10:42.35. She also finished ninth in the 800-meter run and competed on XCP’s 4x100-meter relay team that finished seventh.

Hard work paid off for XCP senior runner Tessa Weiss in the form of Division I state championships in two events. (Photo by Sr. Lynn Winsor).
She is expected to run in at least one race on Thursday (May 12) in the Meet of Champions at the Brophy Prep track.
Weiss indeed has traveled a long distance since her freshman year at Xavier, when she thought she would be a pole vaulter and maybe play lacrosse.
“I wasn’t very good in the pole vault and lacrosse wasn’t really going to work out, so I became a middle-distance runner,’’ Weiss said. “I just loved running. I like competing and getting better.’’
She also competed in cross country for the Gators, and last fall finished fourth in the state meet, helping the team secure a second-place spot. Because of the lingering heat, Weiss and her teammates would begin practice at 5 a.m. and continue that every day during the week and on Saturdays.
Becoming a success in anything requires a lot of hard work, and that hasn’t bothered Weiss when she runs and goes into the classroom.
“I have always been one to work hard,’’ she said. “When I had the goal to break the 5-minute mark in the mile, I did it. It wasn’t a shock. I had worked hard for it.’’
Weiss carries a 4.0 grade-point average, but she acknowledges “that it hasn’t been easy. I have had to push myself academically. You have to learn how to manage your time.’’
She has opportunities to relax and enjoys time with friends, “But I have told them that running is my priority,’’ she said.
She said her race strategy “depends on the race. Sometimes I set the pace and other times I let the other runners set it. In the mile (1,600), I think I set a pace that only I could maintain. In the 2-mile (3,200), I let the others go a little bit ahead. At 300 meters (to go), I started to make a move and then at 150 meters, I took off.’’
Weiss is thankful for the support she has received from her family, teammates and coaches.
“It’s crazy to think I’ve come so far from where I started,’’ she said. “Xavier has had an incredible distance program, and it has been great to be a part of it.’’

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