Joe Abbott does not just dream of success, he expects it. The intent look in his eyes tell you that much. An unassuming winner, the slender built, beanie-headed Abbott has big plans in his senior year at WSU.
The Reno, Nevada. native says injuries to his ankle and knee hampered his performance early this season.
“I didn’t run a step all summer or fall,” Abbott said. “I’m almost 100 percent now, but the training is still pretty far behind where I was last year.”
Despite stumbling out of the gate, Abbott is making significant strides. Last weekend he ran a season-best 800 meter time of 1-minute, 49.47 seconds, finishing second at Saturday’s meet in Seattle. He says he is getting stronger, but the focus has always been to run fast in June.
“To me, the real track season starts in May with the Pac-12 championships,” Abbott said. “I definitely know what I want to do. I have definite goals, and I know where I want to be by summer.”
Simply put, Abbott says he just wants to run fast. For Abbott, fast means running top middle-distance times in the Pac-12, winning at nationals, and even running at the Olympic trials later this year.
“Every race I’m in, I want to win. I want to run fast and get in the record books and all that stuff,” Abbott said. “Getting [to nationals] is not enough. I’ve been there before. Getting on the podium is the ultimate goal. Washington State brought me here for a reason, I want to put the Cougs on the map a little more.”
Do not get it confused. Those high expectations do not play off any sort of untamed ego. Abbott is realistic. He balances successes on the track with a healthy dose of modesty and practicality.
“At the end of the day, it’s just a track, it’s just running,” Abbott said. “You see me on campus, most people probably wouldn’t assume I’m an athlete. Six-foot, 155 pounds, can barely bench-press 200, you know, walk around in a Cardinal’s beanie everyday, people would probably never guess I’m a two-time all American and I’ve got these big goals.”
Abbott says that down-to-earth modesty comes from his father, who often travels from Reno to support Joe in his meets. Abbott says his dad taught him to not expect rewards in life, but to work hard and do the things he’s supposed to do.
“When you’re supposed to do something, you do it,” Abbott said. “You don’t need to expect anything in return, just knowing the satisfaction other people get from it.”
Outside of athletics, Abbott is working to finish a degree in political science at WSU and hopes to go to law school after his schooling in Pullman. He does not know what the future will hold for him, but he will almost certainly apply that same work ethic toward whatever he decides.
For now, Abbott is focused on achieving the improbable. He wants to round out his career at WSU as it began, inconspicuously successful.
“Just knowing that I need to be in peak physical shape and peak mental shape in June kind of keeps me focused everyday, even when there’s snow outside,” Abbott said. “Just take it day by day and know that when the time comes, I’m going to be ready to run fast.