EMU junior cross country runner Elizabeth Nisly (Bluffton, Ohio/Bluffton) won her first collegiate race on Friday, beating 70 other runners, including the runner-up by 15 seconds.
“It was surprising, for sure, to find myself in first,” Elizabeth said afterwards. “We were running against some people who I knew were faster than me, but I think they must have been using the race as a workout. But it was very exciting, too, and I was excited for my team that we were all able to do so well on such a hot day.”
She ran in a pack with two teammates for the first half of the race, before turning on the afterburners over the final 1200m. Her 16:43 was well ahead of Bridgewater's English Jackson, who was second in 16:58.
Despite running in the heat of late August, Elizabeth was struck by how good she felt during the race from running in a small pack with her teammates to pulling away late.
“I felt more comfortable than I usually feel in a race,” she said. “I was really glad to be able to run with my teammates for much of the race. It's hard mentally to be hurting and trying to finish a race by yourself.”
Coming into the preseason, Elizabeth entered her third cross country season with her third coaching staff.
Head coach Bob Hepler and associate coach Erick Camodeca enter their first season at EMU and they made sure to push their athletes to get them ready for the season ahead.
“Preseason kicked my butt, in a good way,” Elizabeth admitted. “I discovered muscles I didn't know I had just because they hurt. But by the end of it I could definitively say I was stronger than when I started, and I know that's what Coach Bob and Coach Cam were shooting for. They pushed me without breaking me (so far, knock on wood) and that's the dream.”
Coach Hepler describes Elizabeth as making everyone better, including the coaches. Her approach to workouts are steady and strong and that is the approach the coaches want from all of their runners.
“She gets the most out of each workout, kind of like squeezing each drop out of a large ketchup bottle,” said Coach Hepler.
Hepler says her approach to racing is even more focused and intense.
“Elizabeth knows how to approach a race and is not intimidated,” he said. “In the short time I've known her I feel that she approaches life the same way. She has strong morals and specific goals. She lives, trains, and races in a way that is true to these standards. “
Elizabeth sees this first race as a good starting point for the team as well as herself coming into the season with high expectations.
“I am proud and excited for what this season will hold,” she explained. “It's gratifying to know that the work you put in over the summer is paying off.”
Beginning a new season, Elizabeth hopes for her team to continue to run as a pack near the front of each race and is excited to see what the season holds.
“I'm really excited for all the freshmen and first year runners to get used to college cross country,” she said, “especially on the men's side-I'm excited to see what they can do. And I feel like I'm in good shape coming into this season, better than I ever have been before this early, so I'm hoping to keep that up. Crush some PRs. Eat a lot of good food. Spend time with some of my closest friends. I love cross country season.”