Mills first year Carmella Cole was honored as the first Great South Athletic Conference (GSAC) Runner of the Week of the 2015 season for her impressive performance in the 6K race at Humboldt State.
In her first collegiate race ever, Cole proved herself by finishing first for Mills’ seven member cross country team with a steady pace of 26:25, approximately a 7:05 mile. She came in 35th place out of 49 runners competing.
Interim cross-country coach Laura Davis was impressed with how Cole’s hard work and commitment was visible in the opening race of the season. She notes that Cole shows great potential for her running ability and becoming a leader on the team
“It’s rare that you see a first year athlete finish first for a team, and even rarer that you see her become a leader from the first practice,” Davis said in an email.
The race featured runners from five other GSAC schools: Agnes Scott College, University of Maine-Presque Isle, Pine Manor College, and Salem College. These schools have higher ranked cross-country teams that are Division Two or National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Cole finished as the top Division Three runner of the race.
According to Davis, the 6k coastal course was considered challenging due to the several loops that included a single-track dirt trail, which can be difficult when passing other runners. This longer distance can also be hard for new college runners—in high school cross-country races are 5k distances. Cole did not know what to expect from her first collegiate race, especially since this was her longest distance race.
“I was going to run and evaluate how I felt and honestly I didn’t feel that tired when I finished,” Cole said. “I know that I need to push myself hard next time so that I can go faster.”
Cole’s leadership and dedication to running has been noticed by her teammates. Mara Harwood, a senior, made sure she kept Cole in her sight during the race.
“It [is] easier to run when you have someone ahead of you and you know that they are pushing themselves,” Harwood said. “It inspires you to push harder.”
In preparation for this season, Cole did intensive summer training that she believes is paying off. Her workouts with her personal trainer included extensive cardio and cross fit drills. She has noticed that after the three month training, she has become “a lot more fit and stronger” runner than before this upcoming season.
With five races left in this fall season, Cole’s goal is to improve her times during races. More importantly, she wants to create a strong bond with her cross-country teammates.
“[Cole] is a great athlete, but she is also warm and encouraging to her teammates; both of those things will take her far as an athlete,” Davis said. “It also means that her teammates succeed with her because she’s bringing them along with her.”