Oregon distance runner Tanner Anderson has had a strong finish to his outdoor season.
He started it off with a surprise third-place finish at the Pac-12 Championships and capped it off by qualifying for the NCAA Championships in the 10,000 meters. He’ll be Oregon’s lone entry into the 10,000-meter now that Edward Cheserek, the reigning two-time national champ and Anderson’s training partner, is out for the season due to injury.
With his first full year now almost complete, Anderson is stepping onto the largest stage of his racing career, ready to defend Oregon’s title in the 10,000-meter.
Anderson is no stranger to pressure but said he’s not thinking about it ahead of one of the biggest races of his life.
“I don’t feel a lot of pressure but I do want to contribute to the team,” Anderson said. “I do want to help us place as high as we can in the meet. That’s something that is definitely on my mind.”
The last two years have been a bit of a roller coaster for Anderson, a sophomore. He ran cross country his freshman year but redshirted both the outdoor and indoor seasons. Although not running for two seasons was difficult for him, Anderson felt his time away from competition helped his progression in college track.
“I felt my redshirt allowed me to gain some experience for college races,” he said. “And it helped me to get stronger and more fit and learn some things from the older guys.”
One of those older guys he’s learned from is Cheserek, the most decorated male collegiate athlete in history. Anderson was a little starstruck at first, but as time passed, the two became close friends. Now, he’s just “Ed.”
“He’s just one of the guys on the team,” Anderson said. “That’s when you’re in the moment. But now as he’s starting to head out, you realize, this is Edward Cheserek and this is something special.”
With Cheserek graduating this spring, Anderson will be without a training partner come Fall. But Cheserek thinks Oregon will be in good hands once he leaves.
“He has a couple more years to go, but I think he’s going to take my spot,” Cheserek said at the Pac-12 Championships this year.
A lot has changed for Anderson over his young collegiate career, but one thing has remained constant: his nickname.
Whether he likes it or not, Anderson is known amongst teammates as “Terry.” It all started last summer at cross country training camp in Sunriver, Oregon.
The contingent of runners had decided to go out for ice cream one night, and as the group was waiting for their orders, a name kept being called out.
“Terry,” the store attendant kept repeating. No one approached the counter, so he continued. “Terry,” he repeated again.
Eventually, Anderson thought, ‘Maybe he means Tanner?’
“I went up and asked him ‘Do you mean Tanner?’ ” Anderson said. “The guy asked ‘chocolate chip shake for Terry?’ And I said ‘Yeah, for Tanner,’ and the guy says ‘Yeah, Terry’.”
“He was pretty persistent about it. My name was Terry.”
The name caught on and a new identity for Anderson was born. Since that evening in Sunriver, the name Terry has taken hold. Some of his teammates only refer to him by Terry and erase “Tanner” off of whiteboards and log sheets, replacing it with “Terry.”
“At first I tried to fight it,” Anderson said. “But after a while, I just kind of embraced it.”
Follow Gus Morris on Twitter @JustGusMorris