Junior Derrick Daigre showed flashes of brilliance during his first two years at Washington, injuries the only thing seemingly holding him back. Last season, in a season that did not officially start until the end of April, Daigre still ran the fastest 800-meters on the team and qualified for NCAA West Prelims. Now the former Kent-Meridian product is building on the end of last season with by far his best indoor campaign. Daigre is coming off a 1:49.00 time at the Husky Classic, which has him ranked in the top-20 nationally. The only Huskies ahead of him are former NCAA Champion Ryan Brown and NCAA scorer Austin Abbott, so Daigre is already in good company. He talked to GoHuskies.com about how the season is setting up for him.
GoHuskies.com: How have you felt the season has gone so far? What’s been the key to your early success?
Derrick Daigre: As far as the season, I think the biggest thing is being healthy. We had a little hiccup at the beginning of the season with my hamstring. But I think maintaining health up to this point has been the biggest difference, and finally being able to run what I am capable of. It is not a huge change or anything; everything feels familiar, it is just I am finally able to do it. I am really happy to just be healthy and running. It was tough last year, especially just watching everyone else compete while you are just stuck working in the event group or whatnot. I’m finally out there able to compete and it means a lot and I’m really happy about that.
GH: What is the biggest challenge to staying healthy?
DD: I wish there was a concrete answer, but I definitely want to say that it is the little things. The culmination of everything: making sure you are not running too hard, making sure your training is right, making sure you are resting when you need to rest. Even eating and sleeping have been some things that I have had to focus in on and make sure that everything is hitting at the right time to be healthy. I think between this year and last year I have really evaluated a few times over the course of the season to make sure that I am doing the things that will get me healthy.
GH: You’re right on the bubble for NCAA Indoors, is that a big goal for you already or are you more concerned about outdoors?
DD: You know, I just love to compete. Whether that is moving up the ranks in the NCAA or looking at the big picture. As long as I am here in the now, I am focused on NCAAs. I think our DMR will for sure make it but I really want that individual accomplishment because it means a lot to finally be able to run the 800 meters and compete with some of the nation’s best. I really do want to qualify, and I really do want to make that NCAA field. But if I don’t make it, it is not the end of the world, however. But with a competitive nature you don’t want to miss any opportunity.
GH: So is the plan for the DMR to take a shot at qualifying at the MPSF meet?
DD: We are definitely going to make a full DMR run at the MPSF without a doubt. I am completely confident even with that, I can still run an outstanding 800 meters the following day. I have raced three weeks in a row consecutively up to this point, and I have PR’d every week. Having this week in-between, I feel like I am going to be fresh to run two good 800’s and just build confidence. If our DMR makes it then we will roll with the momentum.
GH: You’re No. 3 indoors now but do you still feel like you still are just scratching the surface of what you are capable of?
DD: I really do. I feel like am healthy, but we really haven’t been training hard at all. We are really kind of untapped right now. We are pretty much just playing with being healthy and just going out there and willing it to run fast. We haven’t done any speed, or any strength stuff. We have just been having a normal season like we should; we have just been running fast. I feel like I have a couple seconds to shave off still in the 800. I think our goal at the end of the year is to be at 147 or faster. I believe whole-heartedly that I am fully capable of that, especially when I am feeling good and healthy. I’m excited.
GH: Did you grow up in Kent your whole life?
DD: No, I moved around quite a bit. My parents split up when I was young so I ended up moving down to Georgia for my entire middle school years. I just came up to Kent at the end of my 8th grade year and the start of high school and have been here since. Being here has definitely been a learning experience, after moving around a lot. I have learned to branch out through sports. Running track is just fun. I am just happy to be here, especially at Washington.
GH: Did you play many other sports before committing to track?
DD: I played basketball, I swam. I mixed it up a bit. I did a lot of extra-curriculars too. We had all kinds of dodge ball competitions and stuff like that. I played football one year too, but track was always my best sport.
GH: Is there any family history on the track?
DD: They claim they do, but I don’t know how valid they are. My dad was actually a pretty good athlete. He was more of a long-jumper. He always used to say that he ran the 800 but I don’t believe him. He used to say ‘you got that from me’, but I completely doubt it (laughs). My parents are both athletic and they are fairly tall. I believe that that is where I get it from, it has definitely been a lot of work to get to this level, but having natural height helps. I also have one brother and one sister, both younger and in high school. My brother is a standout football player at his high school and my sister is a freshman and plays volleyball.
GH: As the season progresses, do you see yourself running much outside of the 800m? Maybe some 4x4 relays?
DD: I haven’t thought to much about that. I really would be interested in getting in a 1500. Running 4:08 for the mile (at the UW Invitational) and I hadn’t run a mile in almost three years, that was a huge surprise, but at the same time I could have gone much faster, being it was just such an ugly race. I really want to run a 1500 with some of our best guys on our team just to mix it up and see what I am fully capable of as far as distances go. Then I can take that confidence and bring it to 800.
GH: What motivates you most in the sport?
DD: I think I hold myself to a high standard. I don’t like to lose at anything and I just like to always be relevant. Coach Metcalf says that a lot: ‘Are you relevant? Do people know about you in the sport?’ I really want to be that. I don’t want to do anything and not have success in it. So what motivates me I guess is just wanting to be better. I always look at every year and see if I can PR and improve, if you keep improving you’re bound to be relevant.
GH: You had sort of a mini outdoor season last year, but had one of the most dramatic races of the year with the win at the Dual Meet. What do you remember from that?
DD: That was pretty cool. It definitely took a while for the importance of it to sink in. It seemed like everything was spinning out of control. One day you’re hurt and the next day you’re in a race. But looking back on it I really appreciate the fact that I got the opportunity to run in uniform, that really meant a lot, being back on the team, working out fully with them. It’s cool that you can just show up one day and immediately make an impact, winning the dual at the opening of the Husky Track. It’s definitely one of the highlights that I tell everyone about, it means a lot and it’s one of those memories that I’ll probably have for a long time to come.
GH: Have you settled on your major yet?
DD: I am in the process. I did a lot of bouncing around. I was initially Business and then Material Science, and kind of learned the hard way that those weren’t for me. Got into Communications and I just recently got really into Computer Science. Since I’ve taken so many prerequisites, I’ve got all the requirements for an Infomatics degree. So I’m really trying to pursue that hard now. I think I’m trying to get two degrees now, one in Communications and one in Infomatics.