Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Tom Farrell is a long way from home but that hasn't stopped him from being one of the top competitors for Oklahoma State's cross country team.
A redshirt freshman from Carlisle, England, Farrell was first recruited by Cowboys assistant coach Bobby Lockhart. Coach Dave Smith made an in-person recruiting visit over the summer but Farrell signed on with the defending national champions without visiting Stillwater.
"Bobby Lockhart first got in contact with me in February of 2009," Farrell said. "After many emails and discussions with my parents I decided to accept the scholarship offer. I met Bobby in March when he came across to England to watch a cross country race I was competing in, and I met Dave in July at the English Schools Track Championships. I had to take their word for Stillwater and the facilities we have here."
Before running for OSU, Farrell represented Great Britain in several races. In 2009, Farrell was Great Britain's top finisher at the 2009 World Junior Cross Country Championships in Amman, Jordan, placing 58th at the event. He also placed third at an international event in Lisbon, Portugal and placed 50th at the World Junior Cross Country Championships in Poland in 2009.
"It is always an honor to represent Great Britain," Farrell said. "I have been selected to race for them twice and each time I enjoyed every minute of representing my country."
Farrell was eager for the cross country season to start after redshirting his freshman year. Although he was excited about running, he was more excited about wearing a new uniform.
"Being able to race cross country in an OSU uniform is what I am most looking forward to, but on top of that having a successful cross country season as an individual and as a team would top it off," he said.
Farrell entered the 2010 cross country season after having an impressive showing during the indoor and outdoor track season.
Farrell earned all-Big 12 honors with a 14:12.62 in the 5,000 meters, which was good for a third-place finish at the Big 12 Indoor Championships. Farrell holds the sixth all-time fastest 1,500 meter time and the second-fastest time ever for an Oklahoma State freshman with a mark of 3:42.92 in outdoors. He was also the Big 12 runner-up with a 3:44.02 at the outdoor conference championships.
"I think having a good track season helped a lot," Farrell said. "Coming off a good track season, I was really excited to get back into my running after a break and to start practicing with the team again."
Even though he enjoys track, he likes the system for a cross country race better.
"I like cross country because everyone is in the same race," he said. "In cross country you race the same distance and the same course as everyone else that is there on the day, whereas in track, people race over different distances and the overall competition is split up, unlike cross country."
Farrell didn't waste any time making a name for himself during the cross country season. He won the individual title in the four-mile run at the Hurricane Invitational on Sept. 4 with a time of 19:54.
"It felt good to win, but it was a low-key meet," he said. "The main aim of the race was to run as a pack for the first three miles and run hard for the last mile. We implemented the race plan well, and we managed to secure first, second and third places overall."
After his performance in the season opening meet, Farrell was named the Big 12 Men's Cross Country Runner of the Week.
"I was surprised," Farrell said. "I only found out when one of the girls on the team texted me as they read it in the school newspaper. It was a nice surprise though, and I was very pleased to be given the award."
Farrell has kept busy and hasn't missed home too much. He talks to his parents once a week on a computer communication program.
"I don't really get homesick, so I don't have to think too much about keeping my mind busy," he said. "It sounds bad, but I Skype with my parents once a week so they still get to keep in contact with me."
Farrell says that his teammates also help with living away from home and that being with them is enjoyable.
"We have such a close team and we all get along really well," he said. "It is nice to be able to live and train with such an awesome group of athletes."