Leadership from youth brings confidence to women’s cross country

Photo by Julia Murphy

Every team looks to a leader for direction and motivation, and usually this can be found in the oldest students on the team. But Elon University’s women cross country team has only two returning seniors: Allyson Costa and Katelyn O’Dunne.

With a majority of the athletes sophomores or freshmen, the team has to look to the younger players for direction.

“I think it helps our team a lot because so much of our team is young we are able to help each other and we are all the same age,” sophomore Allyson Oram said. “We came on together and we learned everything together. We are all on the same page.”

Oram is one of seven sophomore runners who are returning to the team. The team also added five freshman runners.

A few young players stepped up to lead the team last year, and this will happen again this season, Oram said.

“We know that we are young and we need to work hard for the older kids that have put in so much hard work before,” she said. “We are in this position to develop leadership and create a strong team while we are younger and hopefully that will lead to a successful season and successful seasons in the future.”

Last year the women finished the Southern Conference championship fifth with 135 points and finished 27th ith 736 points at the NCAA Regional Meet.

“Our main goal is to win our conference meet,” Oram said. “Two years ago, we were close. Last year we weren’t where we wanted to be. We are trying to aim for that top goal. We also want to win our invitational as well because we have the meet at our school and want to represent Elon well.”

The team works well together, and this strength is what will lead the team to victory, Oram said.

“The depth of the team will be our strength,” head coach Christine Engel said. “We have a lot of people who can be in the top-5 spots. Having so many talented players will help the team find leadership and hopefully do even better than last year.”

The team started training for the season in June by following guidelines set by Engel and arrived on campus Aug. 18 and Aug. 19 to continue training at Elon.

The Elon women’s program was selected to finish fourth with 93 points in this year’s SoCon championship in the 2011 Cross Country Preseason Polls released August 24.

“We have to work on our confidence and our toughness just because we all know we can do it, but when it comes to races sometimes our confidence is not there and that is why we fall through,” Oram said. “We just need to remember that we are actually a good team.”

The Phoenix opens its season Sept. 10, at the College of Charleston Invitational in Charleston, S.C. The 2011 SoCon championship will then be held in Charleston, S.C. Oct. 29.

The article can be found online here.


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