Running up the Record Books

By Sal Aversa | February 9, 2017 5:36pm

Track & Field junior distance runner Lauren LaRocco holds the school record in the 3k and 10k events.

Media Credit: Sam Keeler and Sam Keeler / The Beacon

Lauren LaRocco grew up playing sports with her twin brother, Jeff, in Sacramento, Calif. She learned to be competitive in the sibling rivalry and she has brought that with her to the track at the University of Portland.

So just winning isn’t good enough: She wants to be the best and smash every record along the way.

“I always do well in high pressure situations,” LaRocco said. “I get really competitive in a race and just want to win...There’s another 3k in a few weeks. I want to break my own record.”

The junior has broken two track and field school records since coming to Portland. First, she snapped the 10k record and then on Jan. 28, she broke the school record in the 3K race with a time of 9:16:66. But the record she hasn’t yet claimed is the one she cares the most about. She was fourth fastest 10K runner in the country last year, now she wants to beat that.

But the track wasn’t her first love. LaRocco played basketball, soccer and softball growing up. It wasn’t until eighth grade that her P.E. teacher and an assistant basketball coach suggested she give track and field a try in high school. She initially decided to stick with soccer because she was more familiar with it, but as her interest in running grew, she changed her mind.

When it came time for college, LaRocco knew she wanted to stay on the West Coast, but a huge factor in her choice of UP was head coach Ian Solof. When he wrote her a handwritten letter during her senior year of high school, it sealed the deal. Solof has always been aware of the unique ability LaRocco has to stay calm under pressure while still pushing herself to get better.

“She’s dedicated, but she also has a lot of composure,” Solof said. “She always knows what she needs to do and has a great mentality to focus on running hard and competing.”

LaRocco says that Solof has, “always believed in her.”

Now, LaRocco runs for four hours a day and 90 miles per week. Her schedule outside of track is rigorous because she is a mechanical engineering major but when she has time, she enjoys hiking and reading.

On her personal runs, LaRocco does not listen to music, but rather she talks to her family and friends on the phone because it keeps her company while she runs. Just the other day, she used her personal run as a time to call her biggest competition and close friend, her twin brother Jeff.

Just like when they were kids, LaRocco and her brother remain close.

“As a person, I would describe Lauren as thoughtful and intellectual,” her brother Jeff said. “As an athlete, she is dedicated, committed, and indomitable. She will not back down from a challenge.”

LaRocco believes that she can always do better. While breaking a school record is a high honor that LaRocco is humbled by, she is determined to break the records she has set.