After a freshman season in which he suffered an overuse injury to his foot, Chaska sophomore Joey Duerr altered his preseason preparation for this season.

Less speed. Steadier runs.

"Before last year, I was running hard all the time, and I think that may have contributed to the injury," he said. "This year, the plan was to do more base mileage. Run slower but longer."

It paid off when he won the Class 2A, Section 2, cross-country meet at Buffalo Heights Golf Course in a time of 16 minutes, 6.2 seconds. He will be among the 2A favorites Saturday at the state meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield.

Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked with Duerr about the frustrations of last year and the goals for this year.

Q How big was winning the section for you?

A It was definitely a goal. There were two other really solid runners, Dan Pettit [of Buffalo] and Isaiah Barlow [of Hutchinson], so I knew I wasn't going to be running alone. It was good to finally get that section win.

Q How was the course?

A It was a pretty wide-open course, so it had a pretty cold wind blowing. But it was never flat. It was always uphill, downhill, a turn here or there. It undulated.

Q Do you prefer to run in cold or warm weather?

A I like it colder, but when it gets down under 45 degrees, that's too cold. Having it 50 to 60 degrees is perfect, cold and sunny.

Nothing is more important to a runner than the feet, so having a foot injury last year must have been pretty frustrating.

A It was. I couldn't run, other than in workouts. We went and got a huge, cushy shoe, but even then I had to spend most of my time off the course on the exercise bike. A runner that can't run is really a person out of their element.

Q How did you deal with it?

A I realized that life just isn't the same without running. Cross-training is not quite the same as going out on a jog with the team.

Q What is your plan for the state meet?

A Just to hold on and roll with the paces. There's a bunch of really good runners all about the same level. There's going to be a big pack. I'll just have to hold on and see what the rest of the runners do.

Q Do you prefer to watch other runners when you race or are you in a zone by yourself?

A I think it's best to do both. You have to watch what the other runners are doing to know what you have to do. It's fun to run with someone and watch and wait for them to make a move.

Q Does running come easy?

A Not really. It wasn't until seventh grade that I decided to go out for track. I thought I was going to be a sprinter, but I found out that I was better suited to distances.

Q What are some of the biggest misconceptions about running?

At school, some kids think I run 100 miles a day. Really? That's not even possible. And a lot of runners wear short-shorts to give their legs more freedom, but there are people who think we wear women's shorts. I have to show them the tag.

Q How far do you run?

A The longest I ever go is 12, maybe 13 miles. But not very often and I never go over that.