State Press reporter Lorenzo Zazueta spoke with junior cross-country runner Shelby Houlihan about her individual triumphs and where she hopes the team is headed this year.
State Press: How long have you been competing in cross-country?
Houlihan: I started running when I was 5. My mom threw me in little 1-mile cross-country races.
SP: When did you realize this was the sport for you?
Houlihan: My mom was a world-class marathon runner, so I’ve always grown up around running. This was always something I wanted to do. It has always been my dream to be one of the best runners in the world.
SP: What are some rituals you have prior to a meet?
Houlihan: I don’t really have a ritual, just going out and competing hard.
SP: What event has been your favorite and why?
Houlihan: The 1,500 (meter race) right now is my favorite. It’s mostly because I’m having success in that race, and it’s still exciting.
SP: What are some of the things you worked on in the offseason to prepare for this season?
Houlihan: I wanted to maintain my fitness. This last summer was the hardest I ever trained, and also I made sure to make healthier choices in my diet.
SP: Describe some of the things you felt you needed to do to be an example for the rest of the team.
Houlihan: I think it’s mostly about doing the right things. You have to make conscious decisions because you never know who is watching. It’s really important to me to be a good example to the freshmen and the younger girls.
SP: Describe what you felt after winning the Roy Griak Invitational.
Houlihan: I was kind of relieved, I knew going into it that I had a shot at winning, but I also knew there were a lot good girls that were going to be there, but afterwards I was relieved it was over and that I did the best that I could.
SP: You earned All-American honors last year as a sophomore. What are some individual goals you have for this season?
Houlihan: Individually, I would really like to be in the top 10 at nationals. That is my major goal.
SP: You were named women’s Division I National Athlete of the week. How does it feel to be recognized on a national level?
Houlihan: I didn’t expect that, because to me, I knew I could win this race, and it was just that simple, I guess. So when I did win it, was just another thing to cross off the list. Getting that recognition was unexpected, and it was pretty cool.
SP: What is your focus heading into the rest of the season?
Houlihan: The main focus is getting the team to go out and compete hard and run the best that we can and stick together in a pack. Then I think we’ll have a good chance at making it to nationals.
ASU’s cross-country team will compete in the Mesa Thunderbird Classic Oct. 11 at Mesa Community College.
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