October 28, 2010

Two-Time State Champion Thrives at Santa Clara

Written By Student Assistant Chelsea Flintoft '14

As the Marist High School Track Athlete of the Year, a two-time state champion, and the valedictorian of her class, most people would think freshman Allie Sibole would not even have time to run cross country. But, remarkably, with her high achievements in academics, this Eugene, Oregon native has been a standout with her strong attacking racing style
on the Santa Clara women's cross country team this year.

When asked about her two state championships, Sibole gives a lot of credit to plain hard work and pure concentration: "I think the important thing to keep in mind is that those two titles came at the end of four years of work, not just one season. I not only had to build up my fitness level, but I also had to learn how to race, which took even longer to develop. It took a lot of tough losses and hard-earned wins for me to really understand what I needed to do to excel in the sport. Winning both the 800 and the 3000 was just fantastic. I really can't imagine a better way to finish off high school."

After getting to know Allie, it is not surprising to learn that she was her high school's Valedictorian. Even though it was hard at times to balance sports, academics, and fun, Allie still found a way to accomplish it all.

"It was crazy at times, but what helped was that I really loved what I was doing," said Sibole. "I would have tried hard in school and on the track even if there was not a reward for doing so; I really like knowing that I did my best."Allie comments on how she balanced everything at once saying, "I certainly learned a lot about time management. I also learned to really value the limited free time I did have and use it for something worthwhile. The focus I gained from high school has helped a lot in college because there are so many other things you can do at Santa Clara besides study."

Santa Clara, with its balance of strong academics and athletics, is the perfect fit for Sibole. The opportunity to run against NCAA Division I competition was hard for this freshman to reject when choosing a great school.

She also accounts much of her decision to the team atmosphere at SCU: "The team was incredibly fun, and the girls seemed really dedicated to their sport and to their school. The program itself was supportive enough that I could come in with slower cross country times and still get a chance to race. The combination of all these advantages sealed the deal for me."

As a Bioengineer major, Sibole admits that the transition from high school to college is not as easy as she thought. She says, "I already had a good sense of time management from high school, but there have definitely been a few late-night essay cramming sessions, and I haven't been able to sleep as much as I would like."

In terms of running, the toughest adjustment for Sibole was getting used to training at a much higher caliber. She says that her weekly mileage has doubled, and the pace of the distance runs can get up to over a minute faster per mile than in high school.

"I've been aiming for more consistency and stronger effort during workouts," said Sibole. "I thrive off adrenaline, so I can get into a zone when I race, but it is harder for me to stay focused during long workouts because, in the past, I didn't have that extra motivation. Our team has really helped me in that respect because we train in packs, so I have an entire group of girls there to support me and help push the pace."

Her goal in the beginning of the season was just to break 19 minutes. But this high achieving first-year runner has already made a huge impact to the team and is heavily relied on by her coaches and teammates to help bring success to the program.

"I'm down to 18:04 in the 5K and I made the championship team, but I'm definitely still looking ahead. I feel like I can get a lot faster in the 6K, and I hope to show my improved speed at the conference and regional meets by picking off as many girls as I can."

When asked about team goals, you can feel Sibole's passion for Santa Clara on and off the course. "I would love to be part of the Santa Clara group that has the school's best-ever finish at the regional meet, because I know we're capable of that. As a teammate, I hope to contribute not just in races, but also as a positive and encouraging person all the time."

It is easy to see Sibole's love for this sport and for this Bronco team. Her favorite moment during the 2010 season was the Gator Invitational held in San Francisco. "We had a great pack right up at the front, and it definitely motivated me to stick with my team and finish strong. Together, we not only won the meet, but for most of us, that was our fastest 6K of the season, even though the course was supposed to be very slow. Without that team support, I doubt we could have run that well individually."

This fun-loving cross country runner has been enjoying her first season at Santa Clara. "Jumping out of a tree during our pre-season ropes course, making up skits on the beach in Capitola, getting up at five a.m. to race in Riverside, going to The Olive Garden for three hours and having our group drink about 20 pitchers of water, and running at the Bronco meet with an awesome crowd," Sibole states as just some of her favorite team moments.

As you can tell, this freshman not only brings a higher level of running to the sport, but also a feeling of pure passion and love for this team.

When asked about what advice she would give to high school runners who want to race in college, she said, "Recruit yourself! If I had waited for coaches to come to me, I probably wouldn't have gotten to race at a Division I school. I know there were many girls out there with times that were just as fast as mine, but I put myself in the minority by letting coaches know that I was specifically interested in their programs. Obviously, that extra work paid off!"

And the Broncos are happy she did just that!

GO BRONCOS!