At Seattle University’s cross-country Western Athletic Conference (WAC) Championship on Oct. 29, Seattle U cross-country runner and nursing student Lila Rice was titled WAC Cross Country Champion. As Rice says goodbye to her final year at Seattle U, she speaks about her accomplishment and her experience in cross-country.
How does it feel to have earned the individual WAC Cross Country Champion, especially since it’s your last year at Seattle U?
LR: It’s very exciting! I have always liked cross-country, and to finish 11 years of running on that note was an incredible feeling.
You helped the team to a second place finish in the tournament. What motivations pushed you to the finish line?
LR: I love our women’s team this year. We have a lot of freshman recruits and I feel like the culture on the team has completely changed for the better. Being surrounded by people whose personalities bring lightheartedness and fun to such a hard sport is incredibly important. Having that energy around me motivated me throughout the season and during the race.
How did you get into cross-country?
LR: I got into cross-country in 5th grade. We had a walk-a-thon every year at our school and I remember I ran the whole thing with my friend who did cross-country at the time. She told me I should start coming to practice with her. I already played soccer, but agreed to give it a try. I joined the Rain City kids cross- country team and have been running ever since.
What’s most memorable of your college cross-country experience?
LR: My best memory from my college cross-country experience is our women’s team winning conference two years ago. I remember sprinting across the course and ending up in a dog pile with my teammates when we heard that we had won as a team. Other than that I would say every Sunday morning when I’m forced out of my bed at 8 a.m. to run 10 miles up Cougar Mountain will probably scar my memory for a lifetime.
Do you look up to any runners?
LR: I don’t follow professional running that closely, but I think Alexi Pappas is an awesome runner because she balances professional running with having a life, which is hard to do!
What does it mean for you going to the NCAA West Regionals?
LT: It means that 11 years of cross- country are almost over, which is a very strange feeling. It also means I get to spend a couple days somewhere sunny and run hard with my wonderful teammates, so I am pretty excited.
Do you have any plans to continue running after graduation?
LT: I plan to take a break from running for a while, but at this point it’s such a huge part of my life that I know I’ll end up running for fun again.
Any advice you have for the team next year?
LT: Running should be fun, not stressful!
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