Q&A with Barrington's Mars Bishop

MARS BISHOP, Barrington High
(PB: 5,000m - 16:49.66; 1,500m - 4:07.16; 1,000m - 2:37.50; 800m - 2:01.18; 600m - 1:23.58)

After showing promise as a ninth grader, Barrington sophomore Mars Bishop had a breakthrough indoor season and certainly gave notice that he'll be around for a while in the middle distance events. At the state meet in February, the Eagle standout captured the 600-meter run, placed second in the 1,500m and also anchored his school's second-place 4x800m relay.

What's on the mind of one of our rising stars here in the state? We asked Mars in our inaugural Q&A feature on RI MileSplit.

RI MileSplit: First of all, congratulations on a great indoor season. Tell us about the state meet. What was your preparation leading up to the meet? Did you feel confident that you could accomplish what you did at the states?

Mars: Going into the state meet I had run some pretty good times in the 600, 1,000, and 1,500 and I knew I would be in the mix to place well and hopefully get some points for the team. I knew I was in decent shape and I had finally begun to feel healthy. Going into the state meet my strategy was to run the lead off leg for the 4x800m squad, and put us in the lead. I also wanted to focus individually on the 600 where I believed I had the best shot to win. As for the 1000 I hoped to be able to pull off the tough double and just give the race my all and see if I might be able to steal one or two points.

RI MileSplit: What do you feel was the main reason for your success this past winter?

Mars: In the beginning of the season I was coming off plantar fasciitis, and I still had some form issues in the first couple of meets. It wasn't until the middle of January that I began to feel stronger and faster. The turning point in the season was the third dual meet against La Salle. I have a lot of respect for their work ethic and how they handle themselves under pressure. I think I put a lot of pressure on myself coming into the meet. I was racing in the 1,500 and I knew that there would be great competition from La Salle so I hoped to just stick with whoever led the race. I ended up running a 4:07 and I believe that was where I began to realize that I could hang with the best in the state. By the time states came around, I had run good times in the 600 and 1,000, too.

RI MileSplit: Tell us about your plans for the outdoor season. In the 2014 state meet, you were seventh in the 1,500m as a ninth-grader? I'm sure you're looking for bigger and better things this year.Will you be participating in any out-of-state meets? What are some major meets you will be competing in this spring?

Mars: One of my goals for my sophomore year was to be more dedicated to the sport and finally start putting in more miles so I could have a successful year. I really never got to test out my dedication to running due to injuries in cross-country. When the indoor season started I came in with a new mentality to get healthy and use this season as a preparation for outdoor. I credit my captain Lucas Bledsoe, and my mom for my indoor season. My captain, who I affectionately nicknamed LB, was a first-time captain going into the season and immediately changed the entire culture of the team. His outspoken leadership and the respect he commanded was a huge reason our team was able to place second in the state meet. He personally pushed me whenever I didn't feel like going the extra mile. Without him, I couldn't have won the 600 at states, and without him, I wouldn't have had the strength to run the 1,000 afterwards. Another person I must credit for my success on the track is my mom. During this past cross-country season there were times when I'm certain she was the only one who believed in me and knew my true potential. She always gave me the support I needed when I was down. Without her, I might have not even done track, going into high school. I was hooked on basketball and being the next Michael Jordan, it was only after outdoor track that I realized I couldn't be like Mike and that I was meant for track. My mom steered my in the track direction very carefully and without her guidance I would probably be playing basketball right now.

My goals for the outdoor season are mostly team goals. Although I have some individual goals such as making nationals in the mile, and to hopefully be able to place high in the 1,500 and 800. As for my team goals, this is one of the best chances Barrington has ever had at a state championship. With the potential points available in the throwing events and the emergence of our distance squad, I believe that if we are able to steal a couple key points in the 4x800 relay and the 1500 and 800 then we have a decent shot at the state championship. Personally I have decided to focus on the mile. I found in indoor I have the speed to make it in the mile, and I know from cross-country that increasing my miles will bring me the endurance required to hang with the top people in the nation. Right now, it's a lot of hope, but my mom always told me to dream big and mothers know best.

(As for out-of-state meets) I had hoped to be able to participate in the Penn relays but my times from indoor do not qualify me and I won't be in good enough shape to produce a qualifying time in the beginning of the season. That being said, I will be running in the Glenn D. Loucks Games, and I hope to qualify for nationals in the mile there. Other than that I want to go to New England's and nationals.

RI MileSplit: Tell us about running at Barrington, a program that consistently produces strong teams each year?

Mars: My experience of the running program at Barrington has been great. We are blessed to have one of the greatest throwing coaches Rhode Island has ever seen, but our distance coaches don't get nearly enough credit for the results they produce. Our cross-country coach Mike Katz has always set us up for the fall XC seasons and track seasons by giving us a carefully planned out schedule that will give us a good base that will carry us through the rest of the year as we move onto less miles and more speed in track. Mike is a very experienced coach and has taught me more than a few simple tricks that have changed my running for the better. He has also served as a friend and trusted advisor to me. When I was injured during the cross-country season he would swim with me some mornings and he has always been supportive of my other passions such as basketball and loves to share a friendly joke with me. At the end of the day I wouldn't want any other coach during the cross-country season. Also I must give credit to our track coach Bill Barrass. He is always looking for ways to improve the team and always looking to push us harder. He is purely a team-first coach, and it couldn't be better for Barrington. He always knows when to give us an easy day or when to push us to the limit in a workout. Bill also serves as the head coach for all of Barrington track. This is a tremendous responsibility and he lives up to that responsibility by making sure we are always coming to practice. Every day, right after school, he checks attendance and gives us a small talk about what's coming up, and anything else that needs to be talked about. His goals for the team are to win class, divisions, and the big goal to become state champions. I have known Bill Barrass since my 7th grade year and I can say without a doubt he has never been more enthusiastic about track before. The man wants to win a state championship badly, and he is motivating us like never before. Regardless of how far we go as a team, this upcoming outdoor season, Bill Barrass deserves a lot of the credit.

RI MileSplit: You have range from the 400m to the 5K. What is your favorite event and why?

Mars: Over the years I have done anything from the 5k to the 400. I personally enjoy all the events that I do, I truly love all distances. But if I had to choose one event that I love the most it would have to be the 600 for indoor and the 1500 for outdoor. The 600 is the perfect mix of speed and endurance for me because I can take the lead from the beginning and if I am able to stay consistent over the next two laps I can usually run a decent time. My favorite event for outdoor and probably my favorite event in general would have to be the 1,500 because it's a distance event that still requires a lot of speed. As my endurance has gotten better I have come to love the pain during those second and third laps, and most of all I have loved the excitement of a 1,500. There is always some unexpected development that occurs on the final straight away.

RI MileSplit: Tell us about competing in a state where there have been so many talented middle- and long-distance runners, particularly over the last decade?

Mars: I love the fact that we have La Salle's great distance team in the state. I know for a fact that I would not push myself as much every day if La Salle didn't have such a talented and dangerous distance squad. I love the competition that they bring and the national recognition that the give Rhode Island is amazing. Not to be forgotten Hendricken always has great middle distance and 3k runners that make any race against Hendricken interesting. Cumberland also has some great distance runners that make the 1500 and 3k very interesting. I feel we have amazing coaches all across the state and that it starts with them educating new runners so that they can continue the success little Rhody has had in distance events. These runners make the competing in the state incredibly fun, I never enter a race thinking that I have an easy win and I love knowing there is going to be another runner in my race who is going to push me hard and give me a great race.

Now some general questions….

RI MileSplit: You're stranded on an island. Other than food, what is the one other item you would need to survive (or maintain your sanity)?

Mars: If I was stranded on an island, and all I had was food and water, I would need a basketball and hoop, I have always loved basketball and I have always been able to find time for it even though I have switched over to running and stopped playing competitively. As long as I can play basketball I will be able to stay sane because I go by one motto and one motto only. Ball is life.

RI MileSplit: What's your favorite TV show? Favorite movie?

Mars: TV, Keeping Up With the Kardashians; Movie, Silence of the Lambs.

RI MileSplit: Who is your favorite sports figure and why?

Mars: My favorite sports figure would have to be Kobe Bryant, when I was a kid I loved basketball and all I wanted to do was to grow up and play the game the way he did. Up until 6th grade I thought I could make the NBA and I all I wanted to do was shoot the fadeaway like Kobe, and although I realize that isn't possible, I still wear his signature clothing line and his shoes.

RI MileSplit: What is your favorite subject in school and why?

Mars: My favorite subject would have to be Chinese. I am half Taiwanese and Chinese culture is very important to me and extremely interesting. I love having the ability to speak second language and writing Chinese is one of the coolest things ever.

Mars' Profile