Strong leadership is hard to come by on a young team, but IU women’s cross country doesn’t have to look any further than junior Sarah Pease.
Through fellow upperclassmen Wendi Robinson and Pease’s guidance, the Hoosiers have improved to fifth in the Division I Great Lakes regional poll.
“Sarah’s a great leader because you wouldn’t know how good she is,” sophomore Breanne Ehrman said. “She is very including and is a friend to everyone as well as a great role model. Cross country has never been my strongest, but she’s always been very encouraging to me to run distance. She has pushed me forward in cross country.”
Pease’s strong leadership began in Elizabeth, Ind., where she ran cross country and track at South Central High School, located 20 miles southwest of Louisville.
In high school she was a four-time all-sectional, all-conference and all-region selection, qualifying for the Indiana state meet in 2003, 2005 and 2006. She also led her cross country team to four straight Southern Athletic Conference championships, earning team MVP accolades four years in a row.
Perhaps the most impressive feats she accomplished were in track, where she holds the school records in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter races with times of 5:26 and 11:46, respectively.
However, when Pease set foot on the Bloomington campus, she did not compete in the cross country season her freshmen year, which propelled her to push harder to make an influential contribution.
“Sarah’s one of those who came to IU as kind of a walk-on type athlete who has changed herself throughout the years into a track All-American,” IU coach Ron Helmer said. “She’s now positioned herself for a great season and to have a good championship run.”
Vast improvements occurred during her sophomore year, when she posted a personal-best 6-kilometer time of 21:07:86 at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships.
Her cross country success carried on into track season, where she ran the second-fastest indoor time of the season for the Hoosiers in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Big Ten-SEC Challenge.
During her junior year, Pease started to really come into her own when she finished 25th overall at the Big Ten Championships in cross country, when she was also named a Big Ten Sportsmanship honoree.
Her biggest accomplishment occurred during outdoor track season, when she took 7th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the NCAA Championships, putting her in elite company as an All-American. Training. Competing year-round can have an effect on many athletes, but Pease and her IU team are adjusting just fine.
“This year track lasted a lot longer,” Pease said. “It’s nice because it keeps you training all year and different because you have two different types of training. It’s nice to mix it up.”
This year, Pease and the Hoosiers have gotten off to a solid start as they have finished first in two meets, the Indiana Intercollegiates and the Sam Bell Invitational. Their biggest meet to date is growing closer – the Big Ten Championships take place Nov. 1.