Wren Senior Elise Matthews talks Sport, Final Race

Rankings: AAAA individual | AAAA team

Name: Elise Matthews
Academic interest: Graphic design 
Hobbies: Cross country, hiking, traveling, and painting
Random fact: I have always wanted to swim with manatees. 
Favorite place to train: The Swamp Rabbit Trail as long as we get Tandem Creperie at the end of the run.

What is your goal for your final state xc meet? 
For my last state xc meet, I hope to finally break sub 19:30 and to finish in the top 10.

How have you looked at your senior season from summer training until now?
As I approach each race, I like to try to focus on enjoying my final season and leave everything I've got on the course.

What have been your goals this season? Please explain.
Since it is my last season of high school xc, my goals have been to stay consistent throughout the season by keeping my focus on how I take on each mile. Last year, I always went out way too fast my first mile and it made me lose a lot of energy early on in the race. With some new adjustments, I now feel that I have more control over my paces. My overall goal is to break my personal record of 19:31.

Have you encountered any challenges?
I was diagnosed with UC a year and a half ago, and it has definitely altered my lifestyle. The hardest aspects of dealing with it were continuously pushing through the pain and trying to keep a positive outlook. I have come to realize that I needed to make better choices with nutrition, rest, and stress. 

What future running plans do you have?
This upcoming fall I will be running for Anderson University along with my amazing teammate Hagan Wilson who is signing with AU as well. I know that this school will be a great fit for us, and we can not wait to join their incredible team!

What you have learned from the sport?
Before I joined cross country and track I lacked motivation and was usually too lazy to make anything of myself. But being involved in a very demanding sport caused me to have a better work ethic in everything I do. Under the discipline of Coach Clark and Coach Mark, they both have taught me to overcome all of life's stumbling blocks with perseverance and faith. This team has become my family, and without their continuous support in me, I would not have known the importance of having determination and community.

Tell us about qualifier, how did you think you performed and your team?
Based on my time last year at qualifiers, I was concerned that would not hit my goal until my last meet at state; so this year I made sure that I was mentally prepared to race hard, and I ended up feeling happy with my time of 19:47. Our team was able to run in a close pack and push each other for this race, and I am so proud of their determination.

What will you remember from your time at Wren?
I will always remember how there has never been a run where the girls have ceased to make me laugh. Even on my worst days of school, coming to practice guarantees that the stress of the day would disappear because of sisterhood with my teammates. 

What kind of race strategy works best for you?
The best strategy for me is to stay motivated and positive throughout the race. I always am more driven to perform well when I am confident in my abilities. 

What would you like to say to younger runners?
To younger runners, I hope that you know that your potential is only hindered by the limits you set for yourself; but when you have faith in your abilities, that is when your potential becomes reality. I have been running for over five years now and I still see the potential to improve. To me that is what is so fun about running: there is always something that can be perfected and you can take pride in your efforts to succeed.

What would you like to say to your teammates, coaches and parents?
To my fantastic teammates, coaches, and parents, you all have made huge impacts on my life that have shaped me into the person I am today. Thank you to my teammates for always giving me reassurance when needed, constant laughs, and for being so supportive of one another. Thank you to my coaches for being two of the biggest influencers in life. You encourage me to always trust and follow God's plan for me, and you never hesitate to serve others first. And thank you, mom and dad, for always knowing what I was capable of, but mostly for loving my heart before my accomplishments. To everyone, your compassion and selflessness do not go unnoticed, I love you all! 

Did you have a specific motivation for this season?
My motivation for this season was for me to stay confident in my abilities. Last spring, I let my physical health push me to doubt my potential, I struggled to have a positive mindset during every race. So for this season, I try to be grateful for every opportunity to run, and in return, I have felt more content with myself. 

How has your cross country helped you in other daily challenges?
Cross country has made me a more dedicated student because of how it causes me to manage my time more efficiently when balancing running and school work. Being a student-athlete can be seen as too time-consuming, but it has helped me with prioritizing tasks and it makes me consider the importance of getting good sleep and nutrients.