Athlete Feature 42 - Tomas Cotter - USA Athletics Scholarships

Athlete Feature 42 – Tomas Cotter


This week we speak to Wichita State’s standout athlete over the past few years, Tomas Cotter. Hailing from Dundalk, Tomas initially attended junior college before transferring to Wichita State, KS, where he made an NCAA steeplechase final, as well as representing Ireland at senior level and the World Student Games.

tbUSA - You finished your time up at Wichita State after a hugely successful two years there, having transferred from Junior college Iowa Central. Out of school in Ireland, how did you end up in Iowa?

TC - I ended up in Iowa because DCU wasn’t really working out for me academically.


tbUSA - Did you ever consider staying in Ireland considering the effort that the likes of DCU are putting in with their athlete support?

TC – I absolutely considered staying at DCU. I really loved it there and made some great friends that I still keep in touch with.


tbUSA - Were your intentions always to transfer in to the NCAA?

TC – I always wanted to go to America but came out of secondary school at 17 and my parents weren’t keen on me taking a year out.


tbUSA - You entered WS with PBs of 1:54, 3:52 and outside of 9 minutes for 3k. You gave them some serious revision in Kansas. For those out there not aware of your training, can you explain what really prompted these great improvements.

TC – In terms of training and lowering my pbs, there wasn’t a whole lot to it. I just trained a little bit harder, got a lot more consistent and my winter mileage increased like 5-10% each year. I was more focused and got more confident.


tbUSA - You finished your eligibility with 4 MVC victories, narrowly missed All-American honours at NCAAs outdoor in the steeple and competed for Ireland in the Euro Team Cup and at the World Student Games. Had you not made the America move, do you think you would have been in such a position?

TC – If I had stayed in Ireland, I think it would have been harder to keep motivated but then I wouldn’t have known what kind of group I’d be training in. It’s a lot easier in the States when you have 15 guys going out on long runs and workouts together. I think achieving those high standards is a lot easier with your school taking you to big meets and there’s absolutely no cost involved. In Ireland, I’ve never seen a cent.


tbUSA - With the site’s founders having studied at Tulsa, we’re all too aware with the Mid-West weather. How does the training facilities and running compare in somewhere as notoriously flat as south-Kansas? The climate can also be a little unpredicatable? Did you train much on the 200m flat indoor track and treadmill or was the team ethic more ‘get outside and do it’.

TC -The mid-west weather can get irritating with that wind but I spent two years in Iowa so I’m used to it. I think it makes you tough, why do you think the likes of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Oklahoma schools have such good distance! We have a respectable indoor facility where we spend some of January and February in but generally it’s get out and run!


tbUSA - While you had tremendous success at WS, how was it in a less fashionable team with yourself being the top runner? Did this suit you, or would you have liked to see what you could have achieved with perhaps a ‘bigger’ school?

TC – I absolutely love the team environment at WSU. We had a lot of talent especially with Aliphine (our female standout) getting 4th at NCAA XC Championships and 2nd in the 10km. I had a 3.46 guy and 1.51 guy to train with which helped a lot. I had leeway in how I practiced and our workouts centred more around me than it would have at a bigger school.


tbUSA - You have returned to Wichita in a voluntary coaching capacity after exhausting your eligibility. Is your intention to remain and train there rather than to return to Ireland? Or if it wasn’t broken, don’t fix it?

TC – At the moment, I’m helping out as a volunteer coach and finishing school. I get to travel and compete also so I’ll race at Bradley, Illinois in mid-October and keep getting them winter miles in. I’m going to give it a year and if I improve and get funding off the AAI, I’ll see what my options are next August. The university have offered me a GA position in the fall to continue my studies also.

Below: Tom running a then PB over the Chase of 8:45 at the Mt. SAC Relays. His PB of 8:41 was ran at the NCAA West Regional Meet in Austin.

Watch more video of 2013 Mt. Sac Relays on

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