Sept. 10, 2009
For O'Brien, Just Two Goals Remain
By Maggie Corwin '12
Anna O'Brien, cross country runner for Northwest, holds the 6K record of 22:09.7. She has earned All-Region honors, All-MIAA honors, has been the top Northwest finisher in 18 of 19 collegiate meets and has nine top-10 finishes. All of these honors and records are something to be proud of. O'Brien wants more.
In 2008, O'Brien redshirted what would have been her last year to compete in cross country. Knowing that she would have more classes to take, O'Brien decided to run her last year in 2009.
"I knew that if I had to stay around an extra year, I would want to run," said O'Brien.
Redshirting the 2008 season had other advantages for O'Brien. The break gave her more time to practice and grow stronger.
"I wouldn't call her break time off," said head cross country coach Scott Lorek, "Anna still trained and competed in cross country meets unattached. It was a year of development for her and I believe it will pay off in the long run."
Along with running in the meets unattached, O'Brien also competed in track and field competitively. She holds four Northwest records in track, three of which were indoor records set during the 2009 season. O'Brien qualified for outdoor nationals in the 1,500-meter run.
"I have two goals for this season," said O'Brien. "The first is the 5K record. We don't run as many 5Ks as we do 6Ks, so there are fewer opportunities to set records. My second goal is to go to nationals in cross country."
Chances of going to nationals in cross country are much more slim than in track and field. Runners are only able to qualify at one meet - regionals -where the top two teams and then the next top two individuals are selected for nationals.
"I believe Anna can do it," said Lorek, "It's just difficult. You can be a very talented runner and still not make it. The last time she competed at regionals, Anna placed third as an individual, which was one spot away from qualifying."
Summer is prime training for runners. Constant running and strength workouts are ideal for development.
"This past summer was my best training summer I've had," said O'Brien.
"Training takes time and a lot of work is required," said Lorek. "Mental toughness and focus are very important for runners."
In 2006, O'Brien became the first Bearcat to win a cross country meet since 1998. During competition, O'Brien tries to stay relaxed. Knowing her location and the location of the other runners helps her focus on what she needs to do. Long distance running is a difficult sport to improve in, but O'Brien has gone above and beyond to reach her goals.
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