Rowan women’s cross country runner and junior exercise science major Mia Guerra has had quite the experience on the team thus far, though the start of her career on the team was less than ideal.
“I had a stress fracture, so I did not race my freshman year,” Guerra said. “I was also injured my senior year of high school. So I was scared because, coming back, I did not know where I was gonna be running-wise. I had to fall back in love with the sport.”
Coming into her sophomore year, trying to pick up where she left off two years ago proved to be difficult.
“I think overall it is mental for me,” Guerra said. “I know last year I was not really into running. I was just dreading the races but still doing them. It was basically just whatever.”
Her head coach, Derick “Ringo” Adamson, saw Guerra’s struggles last year as well and thought patience was the best course of action.
“Do you realize last year at this time this kid [Guerra] could not even finish a half-mile? Because of the injuries and the stuff she was going through, I just knew I had to give her time,” Ringo said. “I think every human being deserves an opportunity to improve. It is what they do with that opportunity that counts.”
With Guerra’s sophomore year over and coming off three rough years of running, she used that opportunity Ringo gave her to put in the work to get better.
“This year over the summer I was really getting into running again,” Guerra said. “Having some of my best runs on my own. I came into this year wanting to get better and be in the top pack of runners, while also just consistently getting better. This year I began to notice really big improvements. Ringo was even telling me that last year I would not have been able to do this good. That was a really big confidence booster.”
Ringo has seen Guerra’s improvement from last year to this year, and to say he is impressed would be an understatement.
“What she is doing right now is insane,” Ringo said. “I feel like last year, most coaches would have given up on her and told her to do something else because she did not give them instant results, but not me. I just kept encouraging her and tried to have her believe in herself. This sport teaches you discipline and teaches you commitment. If you stay the course, then you can do great things. She is a prime example of what this sport can do for someone.”
With Guerra having a better season and having passion for the sport again, she has begun to commit more of her time towards training and staying ready for races.
“I am also prioritizing running a lot more,” Guerra said. “If a friend asks me to do something the week of a meet and I feel like I need sleep, I am picking sleep, which is something I would not have done last year.”
All of that hard work and effort has paid off for Guerra. She has consistently been one of the top runners on the team and has hit a personal record [PR] in almost every race this season. With what might be her last race of the season, Guerra is going to try to do what she has done all season long.
“I actually want to PR again,” Guerra said. “Last race I was in the low 24s. This time I want to be sub-24. I set high expectations for myself. If I can PR one more time, I will really be happy with how this season has gone. To be honest, I have not been upset about how I performed at a race all season. So hopefully I can finish strong.”
If this season has shown anything, there is little doubt that Guerra can set a new PR at DeSales University for the NCAA Division III Metro Regional on Saturday, Nov. 12.
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