Sophomore cross country runner Elise Wright was offered to compete for a plethora of Division I schools but chose Wake Forest. Why? Mostly because of the cohesive team dynamic and how supportive the girls are. She recently finished 14th at he ACC Conference Championship last Friday and hopes to keep improving and lead as Mimi Smith did last year and in years prior. In her free time, she participates in a Latin poetry club and the Athletes in Action Christian Ministry Club. She is a determined athlete who improves at rapid rates and is poised to make an impact on Wake Forest’s cross country team.
Lucy Nelson: What’s something that not a lot of people know about you besides the fact that you’re an athlete at Wake Forest?
Elise Wright: I really like painting, so whenever we go to the beach I would sit at the beach and paint, or I would go outside and I would paint the neighbor’s really pretty blue house.
LN: So both of your parents were runners at Texas A&M. What was that like growing up?
EW: My mom was in the first class of female distance runners at Texas A&M after Title IX passed. Her freshman year, she was part of the first 12-or-something girls at Texas A&M and she was the only one made it to senior year of that class — who didn’t quit or get injured too many times. Her collegiate career actually ended on a bit of a sad note. She was trying to go to the Olympic trials in the 5K, but she broke her toe walking barefoot in her dorm. So she didn’t qualify for the Olympic trials, but she was trying to, but then she couldn’t because she had broken her toe. Growing up, I never really heard about it. I knew that they had [run in college] and I knew that my mom had met my dad at her first college cross country practice, but I had never really heard about collegiate racing. The only sort of real racing influence was that my dad raced bicycles laughs.
LN: So there was no pressure for you to run — you sort of found it on your own? Or were you inspired from their stories?
EW: I sort of knew that both of my parents did this … you know there’s definitely a genetic component to running … there’s also definitely a mental fortitude component. I played soccer until I kept dislocating my kneecap in middle school, and then the doctor was like, “yeah, we can do this surgery where we can fix it or you could maybe just not do a contact sport anymore.” I was like “Ah, I’ll just not do this contact thing anymore and try out this running thing that my parents did.” Honestly, I kind of hated it at first, but it was better than not doing anything at all, and then I realized that I really liked beating people.
LN: You had lots of other college offers to run. So, why Wake Forest?
EW: It’s a good school and it was closer to home, but also that it was a competitive team and a competitive conference. But, even more so, the girls on the team themselves are amazing. They’re my best friends. I spend more time with them than I spend with anybody else, and they know if I’m having a bad day, what to do, what to say. If I lost my phone, I know that one of the people on the team will swing by Benson and grab it for me; that’s really the selling point is the team.
LN: How do you feel about the last ACC competition in Virginia?
EW: I was really proud of how the team did. The team ran really deep. Sam Halvorson is an All-American, and I looked up to her last year thinking “how could I ever do the workouts that Sam is doing?” At ACCs, I really raced with Sam for almost the entire race. Like I couldn’t have told you before the race if Sam or I was going to come in number one for our team. And that’s really powerful; we were passing people on both sides; it was great.
LN: What do you hope to bring to the team?
EW: So I just want to continue Mimi Smith’s legacy. She graduated last year; she was our senior, she was our captain, and she’s really irreplaceable. She really gave everything that she had every race, but not to the detriment of her academics as well, and I just sort of hope to continue Mimi’s legacy — with the help of the other girls on the team — it’s not a one-person job. I want to lead in giving everything that you have and putting it all on the line for your teammates. And knowing that, when we wake up for our teammates at 6 a.m. and it’s 20 degrees outside, you’re not doing it for yourself; you’re doing it for your teammates.