The women’s cross-country team added a player this year who’s brought her passion for running from overseas.
“Every morning I wake up happy to run, happy to go to practice,” said Sara Moore, freshman from Omagh, Ireland. “I’ve seen so many athletes come in and drop out, and I don’t get it.
“I know running’s not for everyone, but I feel like it’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Moore has been running since she was 12.
Motivated by watching her older brother run, she participated in an informal race in 2006.
“My Mom and everyone was like, ‘Oh God. This is going to turn out bad,” Moore said.
She bested her competitors by about five minutes wearing non-athletic shoes and gear.
Moore’s brother saw potential from the race and signed the young runner up for their hometown’s club. She never missed a race or practice.
“I love track,” Moore said. “It’s where I want to be.”
Because of her perfect attendance, Moore said she got to carry the Olympic torch just outside of Omagh.
“My dream is to hopefully run in the Olympics,” she said.
Moore faced several issues during her first season at the university.
She was ineligible to participate in the team’s first few races because the National Student Clearinghouse hadn’t processed her enrollment. The organization verifies degrees to ensure they’re comparable to a school’s enrollment requirements.
Moore experienced minor injuries in addition to the academic hurdle.
Neither setback hindered Moore’s will to succeed.
She ranked eighth in the 5-kilometer race at the Sooner Athletic Conference Championship in November. The feat guaranteed her a spot at nationals, where she finished 93rd with a time of 19:11.
“It was one of the toughest races of my life,” Moore said. “Because it was so cold, it kind of put me off a little bit.”
The women’s cross-county team finished 16th overall at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Championship.
“I think as a team we pulled together very well, considering the circumstances,” Moore said.
Moore attributes much of her success to Connor Holt, the cross-county and track teams’ coach.
Of the five coaches who’ve trained Moore, she considers Holt the best.
“He has everything planned out,” she said.
Holt maintains a record of all the runners’ times to track the team’s progress, Moore said. He also has individual meetings each week with the runners to discuss their growth, academics and any issues they may have.
“It’s the best coaching structure I’ve ever had,” she said. “He’s like the perfect role model.”
Moore performed well for her first season, Holt said, but she has potential to improve further.
“She’s young,” he said. “She’s a freshman, so I think the biggest thing is the learning curve, making sure you go to class and put in the work.”