ARIELLE SUMMITT posted a strong first year running for Johns Hopkins, racing at the NCAA Division III outdoor national championships and the USATF U20 national meet. The Uni High alumna checks in:
What was your first year like running at the college level?
I’ve seen myself progress really well, both in cross-country and track. The higher distance in cross-country (6 kilometers versus 5) has definitely helped me in track. This past season in track ... the later part of the season I ran the 3K steeple(chase) more than I ran the 800, so I think part of that can be contributed to running more distance in cross-country.
Was there any trepidation about taking on the steeplechase?
Yeah, there definitely was. Before I started track (competitively) I knew I wanted to run, and I thought I was going to be a hurdler, actually, and I’ve always wanted to try hurdles. So that part wasn’t that scary to me. But the water jumps were kind of scary because that’s where all of the videos come of people falling in the water. I’ve never had a big fall like that, but actually at nationals this past season, in the finals race, there was a girl right next to me who literally faceplanted into the water. I was kind of shocked by it, but you’ve just got to keep racing.
How does the team dynamic at Johns Hopkins compare to that at Uni High?
It’s definitely a different team culture. I think the team is definitely bigger than I had in high school, especially when you get to the track season because you add in the sprinters and jumpers and everyone. But I feel like it’s still definitely close-knit. I’ve formed a lot of good relationships with everyone, regardless of the distance they race or if they throw or anything. ... One thing that’s also different, I see everyone on the team at practice but I don’t see them all the time during the day like I did in high school. ... You actually have to make an effort to hang out with people outside of practice.
Do you feel like you accomplished everything you set out to do as a freshman?
I think I accomplished a lot from what I set out to do. I honestly didn’t expect to make nationals in steeple. I thought maybe that would come from the 8(00) or the 1,5(00). But I’m really happy that I did, and I love steeple, so I’m really glad that I tried it.
How do these national meets compare to IHSA state track and field?
They’re very similar. It definitely takes some getting used to, running at a national level versus at a state level. There’s definitely a level of intensity that I don’t have that much experience at. ... Honestly, I didn’t really feel the pressure this year because I was just happy to be there. ... This year I’ll definitely have to kind of train my mind to deal with that more and focus on that more.