Lady Buffs Cross Country focuses on teamwork

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WT Cross Country team wears pink and white shirt to support Breast cancer month.

WT Cross Country team wears pink and white shirt to support Breast cancer month.

 

With a team of 10 members, the women’s cross-country team defies the normal stigma associated with long distance running. Most think of this sport as an individual race, but for the Lady Buffs it’s all about teamwork.
“The team and I are together at least 20 hours a week,” Michaela Johnson, senior Health Sciences major, said. “You have to like your team in order to enjoy your life. We basically just become sisters in that we are always hanging out. We are always doing something together whether it be working out, running, homework, studying, eating, just anything.”
This past Saturday the women raced in the 26th Annual Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival in Fayetteville, Ark. Each of the top five runners recorded a new personal record for the 5K race and finished fourth in the non-Division 1 field and 15th overall. They ran with more than 370 other competitors.
“Chile Pepper is my favorite race because there are so many people,” Emma Love, senior Sports and Exercise Science major, said. “Because it’s such a fast course people just kind of carry you through it. It makes the course go by really fast. You’ll just be running along and then you turn the corner and see you’re about to get a PR.”
For this race, the team wore white jerseys with a pink WT logo in honor of breast cancer awareness. They also wear black pink eye-blacks with the names of breast cancer survivors or those currently going through breast cancer under their eyes.
“We want to represent the fight against breast cancer,” Love said. “We actually have a sponsor who recently overcame breast cancer. We support their fight and have a different motivation during that race, running for another person.”
Many of the girls contribute their success to Coach Kimberly Dudley. As a head coach, Dudley runs with the women of the team and stresses the importance of goals.
“I work really hard at teaching them to run with confidence and to understand what that means,” Dudley said. “Just grow them in that confidence level so that when they can get on the line they can perform at a level that they are capable of.”
The cross-country women also run track and field as well. The scholarships for cross-country are combined with track.
“They are umbrella through NCAA together,” Dudley said. “So when you are recruiting you have to look for both sports, what athletes will benefit both the cross-country team and the distance crew for track.”
The women start their days as early as 6:20 a.m. to get in the workouts they need for their set mileage, and focus on a high protein, high vegetable diet.
“Having to try and eat healthy is difficult because those sweet teeth come in every night but it’s not as hard because now I have a team and we keep each other accountable,” Johnson said. “We’ll go eat a salad or fruit instead, so we have fun eating healthy.”
The Lady Buffs will compete  this Friday, October 10 at 6 p.m.  in the WagonWheel [6K] dual.

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