Danielle Schultz did not imagine she would win a cross country race at Webster’s women’s cross country team’s meet. Yet she finished 30 seconds ahead of her opponents.
Months of pushbacks, practice and preparation led Webster’s women’s cross country team to its only meet of the season. At the meet, sophomore Danielle Schultz won the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) individual cross country championship.
Schultz said she never imagined she’d win a cross country race, much less with a 30-second gap between her and her opponents.
“When I was getting towards the finish, I had no idea how close she was, so I was scared – trying to book it so it wasn’t a close finish,” Schultz said. “So whenever I did come across the line and I looked in front of me, I was so shocked no one was around me.”
This was the first cross-country competition since November 2019. It got pushed back a semester this school year due to COVID-19. How the race was held also changed. Runners had to keep their masks on while warming up and immediately put them back on after racing and teams were kept separated.
One major difference Schultz pointed out was that usually, they tell you to get behind the line and then shoot the gun to start the race.
“It’s weird this time because over there I get on the line, ‘Everyone take off your mask,’ so there was a new element to it,” Schultz said.
Leading up to the day of the race, Schultz said she felt anxious.
“There’s so much pressure because the race is like one and done,” Schultz said. “You have to do it good, you know. There are no other races to make up for it.”
The Gorloks collectively came in second place, losing the number one spot by a mere point. This comes after the Gorloks have won the past three consecutive SLIAC titles.
While the team said it was hard to accept the loss by one point, they are happy for their teammate. Runner Cora Reed said Schultz’s award is well deserved.
“We were so proud of her,” Reed said. “She went out there and she went for it and she got it.”
Reed came in in third place at the meet, making her one of the top runners of the season. By the end of the race, the team was covered in mud, but they said it was worth it.
After the meet, the team got together to eat their collective favorite food, Jimmy Johns, and reflect on the day.
The limited season highlighted how important it is to have teammates for the team.
“I think before COVID, we took each other for granted. I don’t think we realized how much we depend on each other. When COVID happened, it was hard to go out and it was hard not having teammates cheer me up and cheer me on. Not having that made a huge difference,” Schultz said.
The team doesn’t have to wait long to compete again as the cross country’s next season is this upcoming fall. Cross country is a fall sport but the season was delayed to the spring due to COVID-19