Aug. 31, 2012
Poole returns for encore
By David Boyce
Northwest Missouri State senior cross country runner Brittany Poole received the highest compliment possible from her coach, Scott Lorek.
And his words had nothing to do with her running ability.
Oh, Lorek could have really gushed about Poole’s fifth place finish in the steeplechase in last spring’s NCAA Division II outdoor meet. Or Lorek could have really elaborated on how Poole battled back from a stress fracture in her knee to finally compete in the MIAA conference meet and regional to help the women’s team.
Lorek did speak about those accomplishments, but it was his finals words of the interview which had the biggest impact.
Poole is majoring in education with a minor in psychology. She wants to be a teacher when she leaves Northwest.
“She would probably be embarrassed to say this, but she does want to make a difference in people’s lives and that’s where she can do that and she will,” Lorek said. “She is going to be that person that does.”
A good college coach can sense these attributes about their student-athletes as they watch them grow from an unsure freshman to a senior ready to pursue life outside of college.
“About their third year you start to see the shift of thinking about their life after college,” he said. “It has been exciting to see her grow. It is really parallel to her running.”
When Poole arrived at Northwest 5 years ago from Millard West High School in Omaha, Neb., she didn’t possess a lot of confidence in her cross country running. She also thought she wasn’t going to follow in the family tradition of being a teacher.
“I tried to deny it my first year of college and then I just kind of took the mold of the family and I figured that’s what I wanted to do, and Northwest is an excellent school for that,” she said.
“Also, I would really like to coach. Hopefully, I can help kids achieve their athletic goals as well as their academic goals.”
Poole can use her junior season as a prime example of overcoming adversity, setting goals and achieving them.
She entered her junior cross country season poised to have an outstanding fall. She put in a lot of hard work during the summer. Just before the meets started, she suffered a knee injury severe enough to keep her out most of the season.
Instead of giving up on the cross country season, Poole rehabbed the knee and did everything necessary to return by the conference meet.
“Obviously, I lost a lot of training from that,” she said. “Mentally and physically it was tough, but by the time regional rolled around, I was in a little bit better shape.”
Lorek said Poole’s mentality the entire fall was to get back and help the team.
“We ran the conference meet very conservatively to get her through it. At regional she ran hard,” he said.
It set her up for a fantastic outdoor season in track. Poole just barely missed the national outdoor meet in the steeplechase in 2011.
“I had my mind made up to make the national meet and once I made it, my goal changed and I wanted to make it to the finals,” Poole said. “Once I made it to finals, I set another goal to be All-American. It was nice to meet every goal in outdoor.”
A performance like that will help Poole’s confidence grow in cross country.
“Sometimes she doesn’t consider herself a good cross country runner like a track runner,” Lorek said. “What has happened is she has established herself as one of the best runners regardless of whether it is track or cross country.
“I tell her, ‘Brittany, you don’t have to be a great cross country runner, but you are a great runner and therefore you are going to do well in cross country because you are just that good.’/”
Although Northwest lost a very talented cross country runner in Angela Adams, who finished first last year in the MIAA Championship meet, Poole is one of several strong runners returning.
Northwest was picked fifth out of 12 teams in the conference preseason poll. Poole likes her team and the fact that the conference meet this year is at Northwest.
“We are going into the season seeded fifth, but I definitely feel our team is more capable than that,” Lorek said. “Other teams in conference are going to be surprised in our ability.”
The key to the season, Lorek said, is to stay healthy.
“We are vying to win the conference if we stay healthy,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of depth. We are shooting for a qualifying spot for the national meet.”
Northwest begins its season Sept. 7 at home in the Bearcat Open.
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