PHOTO | Submitted
The Dallas sun bared its warm heat on the cross-country runners of the Dallas Baptist University Old Glory Gallup on October 15. Freshman cross-country athlete Avery Stanley stretches her legs as she stares the 5-mile course in the face.
A gunshot is heard, followed by the rhythmic thudding of feet on grass. The race is officially underway. Arkansas Tech University finished second overall, with Stanley coming in 34 out of 161 athletes.
Like many collegiate athletes, Stanely keeps a lot on her plate. Between nursing, labs, studying, and athletics, it can be difficult for her to find time for herself, but she makes it work with a rigorous schedule and self-discipline.
One of the many talented runners Tech boasts on its women’s cross-country team, Stanley is passionate about running, starting her journey in the running six years ago, thanks to a different stamina-intensive sport: soccer.
“I started cross country in seventh grade because I was trying to stay in shape [for soccer]. My coach at the time wanted us all to run. Over the years, I just fell in love with it,” Stanley said with a warm smile.
She loves running because she loves the sense of accomplishment she gets from finishing a good race or workout.
“I know I am putting in the work, and I know it’s paying off,” she said.
Running isn’t the only aspect of the sport she loves. Her teammates play a critical role in her fondness for cross-country.
“I just love the atmosphere. The team is so supportive, and I like that it’s you get out what you’re putting in. If you try really hard, put in the effort, and do what you’re supposed to do, it’s going to show in your races,” Stanley said. “It’s a self-motivated sport with a great team atmosphere.”
Her favorite aspect of running is the accomplishment she gets from finishing a good race or workout.
“I know I am putting in the work, and it’s paying off,” she said.
In her free type, Stanley enjoys hanging out with her teammates and going on adventures with her roommates, who are also in cross-country.
“We love to go out and get ice cream at Dairy Queen; I like the peanut butter chocolate chip Blizzard. We hang out and watch movies in the dorm,” Stanley said.
Her most significant influence in the sport is her high school cross-country coach in Yukon, Oklahoma, Rodney Zimmerman. He wasn’t her coach from the beginning. Instead, he acted as a teacher and mentor for her before her first year of high school.
“He motivates me and helps me whenever I am feeling down. It’s not just running; I can go to him for anything. He has been a good role model and adult character in my life,” Stanley said.
Thus far, Stanley has had a very successful freshman collegiate career, finishing top 40 in three of the four races she has run.
“I feel like this is a good starting point for a freshman. I hope eventually I will get better, of course. I am running against seniors and 23-year-olds and stuff, so it’s a big age gap, and over the years, I will be up at the top,” Stanley said with a determined tone.
As the cross-country team continues in the GAC, follow their journey on Instagram at goldensunxctf.