In the Indiana Intercollegiate cross-country meet, Haley set herself apart from her sister, Kelsey, and won the 5K race as a true freshman.
Winning the race came as a shock to her.
Haley, however, had a leg up on the rest of the competition, as she had run the course many times.
“I knew the course well because I had run it in high school, and I knew every turn and what parts I usually felt good at,” Haley said.
The Indiana High School cross-country State Championships take place at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course every year. Haley had the opportunity to run the course several times while attending Carmel High School.
She finished fifth in the state her senior year, while her team won state all four years she was there.
“We were such a good team that it helped me become better as an individual when our team had so much success,” Haley said.
Haley said she and Kelsey didn’t start running until sixth grade.
Because they were fast in the other sports they played, the two decided to give cross-country a try.
They were successful in both cross-country and track, so successful they were recruited by top teams in the country.
“We took all our college visits together,” Haley said. “We liked and disliked the same things about the different schools we visited.”
Haley said their decision to come to IU was mutual, and their bond extends as they are roommates and have similar schedules, which helps them while training and racing.
“It’s nice having a companion right there along with you when you are running, who probably knows you better than you know yourself,” Haley said.
Haley said having her sister with her during races is a great asset.
“It helps because I know exactly what she is going through, and we know each other’s body language,” Haley said. “We can help each other out on the course and pass on positive energy if one of us needs it.”
Having her twin sister right alongside her as she made her transition into college cross-country was also helpful, she said, and her weekly mileage doubled coming into college.
As difficult as that transition was for Haley, IU Coach Ron Helmer said she never became discouraged.
“Coming in that first week, Haley was sick and was really struggling to keep up,” Helmer said. “We were wondering if we were going to keep the redshirt on her for a few weeks until we could see if she was ready to help us.”
The coaching staff didn’t keep the redshirt on Haley, in part because Haley had zero sense of doubt in herself, Helmer said.
Even after the rough start to her college career, Haley finished fourth in the Indiana Open, her first collegiate meet.
Weeks later, she flashed the potential Helmer said he saw when he recruited her.
“She swam a lot in high school and ran some,” he said. “We felt if she would have a chance to just focus on running, there was a chance she would go forward quickly.”
And she continued forward quickly, winning her second collegiate meet.
Helmer said her aggressiveness helped her win.
“She took a chance and made a move to take control of the race,” Helmer said. “What was the most fun is that she made the move stick.”
Haley said Helmer told them to stick together for the first 3K and from there she took off.
“I felt good and decided to just go for it and it paid off,” she said.
She added that one of her biggest mentalities is to be fearless and that aided her push to the finish.
“Now, we are just looking for consistency from her on a race-to-race basis,” Helmer said.
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Oct.17, Louisville, Kentucky
This meet offers IU a tune-up right before its stretch of Championship meets. The men’s team is also looking to repeat as champions after winning this meet last year, while the women’s team finished 16th. Washington State won the women’s race in 2014.
Nov. 11, Evanston, Illinois
Both the men’s and the women’s teams had strong showings at the Big Ten meet last season, finishing fourth and sixth, respectively. IU looks to improve upon those finishes and make its mark on the Big Ten. Wisconsin won the men’s Big Ten Championship last season and Michigan State won the women’s Championship.
Dec. 21, Louisville, Kentucky
Only the IU men competed at this meet last year, finishing 15th. Will the women qualify for the meet and can the men improve upon last year’s finish? Colorado won the championship last year on the men’s side and Michigan State won it on the women’s side.