Freshman Ben Veatch has been successful throughout his running career thus far. He has won state championships in the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter events in track, and a cross-country state championship. He finished second at the Nike Cross Nationals and third at the Foot Locker Nationals in his senior year of high school, too.
Veatch was highly recruited out of high school and has made an instant impact since his arrival. He claimed fourth place at the Intercollegiate meet in his first collegiate race, then placed fifth at the Rim Rock Farm Classic.
He followed up these performances with a 38th-place finish at Pre-Nationals and finished the Big Ten meet as the first freshman to cross the finish line en route to a third-place IU finish and a Big Ten Freshman of the Year award.
Veatch said his biggest motivation to get better and perform well is, and always has been, his team.
“I always credit my team,” Veatch said. “I love my team. This year I’ve bonded with the guys and the upperclassmen have been really good to me, and I love them. I’m ready to go to battle with them at Regionals, and then hopefully Nationals.”
Throughout the year the IU men’s cross-country team has been led every race by seniors Jason Crist and Matt Schwartzer, and Veatch, who has kept up with them time and time again.
“They have been the biggest support for me so far,” Veatch said. “All I have to do in races is tuck behind them and then go along for the ride. They’ve taught me not to think as much and have taught me race tactics as well.”
Veatch said he wasn’t surprised he won Big Ten Freshman of the Year, and that once IU Coach Ron Helmer told him he was the first freshman to finish the race, he knew he had won the award.
The Big Ten Freshman of the Year said he was excited to be able to win the award and did not hesitate to credit his accomplishments to his team, the coaching staff and the training. He beat out Jaret Carpenter of Purdue and Jon Davis of Illinois for the nod, two runners who have beaten him in the past.
Still, Veatch said his favorite part about this season so far has been traveling and hanging out with the rest of his team.
“Those are some fun trips,” he said. “We play cards all weekend and then go compete. It helps to take a little break from school every now and then and to have fun with the guys.”
He said the team has been very good to him so far and credits them in everything he does on the course. He said he was confident IU had a good program coming into this season and knew they could make him an even better athlete.
“They’ve had talented freshmen before me so they know what they’re doing,” Veatch said. “I picked IU for a reason and I knew they were going to utilize me at my best potential so it’s not a shock. I knew I could be the best freshman in the Big Ten and help put the team in the best position to win.”