June 6, 2003

Bugg helped Chicago track rise to prominence

Peter Louis Bugg has gone by three names on the cross country and track and field teams, and although he signs his e-mails "plb," Louis is not one of them. Some call him Peter, and a few say Bugg. Yet to almost everyone, he is known simply as Captain.

And it is not hard to see why. Bugg has been named team captain an unprecedented six seasons: twice for cross country, twice for indoor track, and twice for outdoor track. His leadership over the past three years has been the driving force behind Chicago's rise from obscurity to national prominence.

His own athletic accomplishments are equally impressive. In cross country, Bugg placed tenth at the UAA Championships to earn second-team honors, and he finished forty-fourth at the Midwest Regional meet in a personal best time of 25:49.

In track, he placed fourth in the 5K at the Indoor UAA Championships with a time of 15:08.52, and he was fourth in the 3000-meter steeplechase at the outdoor meet in 9:33.99. Bugg finished the year hitting an NCAA Division III provisional national qualifying standard in the steeplechase with a time of 9:22.76, the second-fastest time in school history.

But leadership has been Bugg's greatest accomplishment. As head coach Chris Hall stressed, "While his contributions as an athlete were of great importance, he's most impressed me with the way that he puts the team goals before his own and his ability to draw everyone together. As much as anyone, Peter has made our team a family."

Yet according to Bugg, running was not always something he took very seriously. "When I first got here, I never thought of myself as an athlete. I did a lot of things, and running was just one of them," said Bugg, an economics major with a 3.5 cumulative GPA, "But in the past four years, running has become a way of life. I eat, sleep, and schedule around running."

And from the hard work and the subsequent success that it brought, Bugg counts running as providing him with as great a wisdom as any he found on the quadrangles. "[Running] has taught me that if I work hard enough, I can do anything. I didn't ever go to nationals, but I didn't train to go to NCAAs until this year. If I had gotten my act together sooner, or if I had one more year, I have no doubt I could do it."

Bugg sees his greatest moment of success as his race at the UAA cross country meet. "I never gave up for one second, and I ran a good time on a tough course. But the best part was that we won as a team, and I knew that I had been a part of that." The championship was Chicago's first in school history.

But the successes are not what he claims as his fondest memories. Rather, "running and cheering under the lights at North Central [College] on Friday nights, completing hard workouts with all my teammates together during cross country pre-season, and stupid stuff like yelling 'the radio's broken' or 'late.'"

His post graduation plans include a three-month vacation in Patagonia with his younger brother and then "a job teaching math and economics in Colombia. Eventually, I plan to come back to the states for graduate school, possibly to get an M.F.A. in photography."

And the secret to Bugg's success? "Make your teammates your friends. When that happens, you will love running so much more, and then you will run much better as well."