Running is considered a punishment in most sports. For Bluffton’s Cross Country Team, it IS the sport.
Jennie Matteson, a sophomore dietetics major, is proud of her sport and loves the dedication required to be a runner.
“Runner’s high is a real thing, just like the feeling after a good race,” she said.
She’s been a runner since her freshman year of high school. She started out as a soccer player and was doing both cross country and soccer at the same time. She loved getting medals after doing well at races.
“This [is] kind of cool,” she said when reflecting on how she felt in those early days. “I get a medal. Sweet!”
The women’s team this year has one senior, Anna Hairston, and one junior, Alissa Hauke. Along with six sophomores and six freshmen, they are one of the youngest teams in the HCAC.
“The dynamics are kind of hard because Anna is our only senior and Alissa is our only junior,” Matteson says.
However, she still has high hopes for their season.
“My favorite part is my teammates, they are my best friends on campus,” says Matteson.
As for the team’s goals, the women won third place in the conference last year and are shooting for second place this year.
After quite a few team members got turned around at the Hanover meet, the coaches made plans to go early to the conference meet to walk the course. This year’s conference meet will be Oct. 29 at Hanover.
One of Matteson’s biggest supporters is her mom, who brings a cow bell with her to every meet.
“She embarrasses the crap out of me,” Matteson says. “She loves it more than I do.”
The student-athlete struggle is all too real for Matteson, who is enrolled in one of bluffton’s hardest programs.
“With school it’s so hard to structure everything,” she said. “You really need to schedule your time and get your school work done because that’s why we’re all really here.”
Matteson also recommends getting plenty of sleep.
“I am very sleep sensitive,” she says. “If I miss two hours of sleep I’m horrible.”
Matteson would love to run marathons after graduating, but because of her internship requirement for dietetics she doesn’t believe she’ll be able to.