MINNEAPOLIS -- Paige Peschel is one of five Golden Gophers named team captain for the University of Minnesota women's cross country team's 2017 season.
Last fall Peschel competed in six meets and clocked a career-best 6K time at Jack’s Run with a time of 22:47.7. The Westfield, Wis., native will lead the Gophers' 800-meter group through the 2017 season. On the track, Peschel made her B1G debut last spring, running at both the indoor and outdoor Big Ten Championships. She also recorded career-best times in the 600m and 800m indoors and the 800m and 1,500m outdoors.
Peschel joins fellow captains Amelia Barczi, Bailey Ness, Patty O'Brien, and Madeline Strandemo to lead this year's team. Before the season begins, Peschel shares her team and individual goals for the season along with reflecting on her leadership style and more.
Gopher Sports: As more of a track-sided runner, what is the hardest thing about cross country for you?
Paige Peschel: The hardest thing about cross country is having to stay mentally focused for so long. In an 800m race, you just have to be focused for two laps around the track, and the same goes for when it was just two and a half miles in high school, versus what it is now.
GS: How was the transition from racing 4K in high school cross country to now racing 6K most of the time in college cross country?
PP: It was a little bit of a struggle. When I first came in as a freshman, they had me doing 4Ks, and I worked my way up to 6Ks. It wasn't like they threw me in with the wolves right away, I worked my way there.
GS: What’s your career here at the U been like so far?
PP: It has been like a dream come true. I came from a small town with a small team, so having such a big team is my favorite part. There are so many people and personalities.
GS: What does it mean to you to have been chosen as a captain?
PP: It is truly an honor because the team votes for captains. For them to see me as someone who is positive and is a role model for them means a lot to me.
GS: How would you describe your leadership style?
PP: I can always find the positive in what happens, even in those hard workouts where no one feels good. I always try to find a positive to make us all smile a bit.
GS: What are you looking forward to most about your 800m group this year?
PP: We will be bringing in a lot of freshmen who are 800m-based, so I think it will be really cool to see how they mix in with our group. We also want to work on continuing to build; even if we aren't cross country people, we still want to make ourselves the best cross people we can be.
GS: What is your favorite part about cross country season compared to track & field?
PP: I really like doing workouts out on the golf course. I like doing workouts versus just going on runs because it is easier to focus for small intervals. Getting all of us out there and on our home course really makes it a fun season.
GS: How has running cross country helped you train for the track?
PP: It has really helped me with endurance. When some people go into the 800m, they think it's long because they are more sprint-sided. For me, I go into it thinking, 'Oh, I only have to go two laps! This is so short; it will be so much fun.'
GS: What has been your proudest moment in your running career so far?
PP: Being able to look back each year and see how far I have improved. To be honest, it might even be how much I've improved in cross country because that is where I have made the biggest leaps. Each year, I've been able to feel more like I am really a cross country runner versus a track runner trying to survive in the cross world.
GS: What do you like best about having such a big team?
PP: It is so much fun. Even if you are having a bad day, there is someone else having a bad day, too. You always have someone there for you. I think that's what makes us such a strong group. We have so many people that we can go back and forth with.
GS: What are your goals for the year?
PP: One of my goals is to continue to improve one my 6K time and stay confident with the longer distance. Confidence is key. I would also like to try and make a travel meet and see what I can do there. For the team, I think we can make a good run at Big Tens and hopefully make the national meet again.
GS: As a redshirt junior and a kinesiology major, what kind of academic and career goals do you have?
PP: I will finish my undergraduate degree this year. I think I am going to come back for a fifth year as a graduate student. I’m going back and forth between a couple of options. There is a Master's in Nursing option, or I was thinking about a Master's degree in kinesiology with a behavioral emphasis. If I go with the Master's in Nursing, then I would like to be a pediatric nurse and work with kids, otherwise I'm hoping to pursue a career where I am still working with young people or in the sports world.
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