As junior cross-country runner Lexa Barrott crossed the finish line at the Miami Opener in Oxford, Ohio, on Aug. 31, she had finally accomplished one of her goals.
With a time of 24:42.6, she earned her first career collegiate victory at the women's 6K.
The team competed against unranked Indiana State and Miami University. Barrott said the plan for the meet involved staying together for most of the race, then running hard to the finish line.
Their execution went just as planned, and the Hoosiers took first through fifth, with Barrott at the head of the pack.
Even after a major individual accomplishment, Barrott kept a team-first attitude.
“We have these goals to place high at the Big Ten meet, and obviously to go to the national meet again,” Barrott said. “Any way that I can be a part of that, that’s my goal.”
Whether it’s moving the pack in a big meet or holding teammates accountable in practice, Barrott said she’ll do the little things to help the team succeed.
“This year is definitely a breakthrough year for not only the team, but for some of the younger athletes on our team as well,” Barrott said.
Senior teammate Katherine Receveur said Barrott displayed confidence and leadership, dating back to last season.
Now she faces the pressure as a top runner and a leader on the team.
“She has grit,” Receveur said. “She gets on the track or on the cross-country course and gives it her all. You need to have that quality, or you’re never going to run as well as you can.”
After battling injuries in previous seasons which dwindled her opportunities, Barrott said she finally put together a full six months of training.
Receveur said she’s in shape and ready to contribute to a team that raced in the NCAA Championship meet a year ago.
“We have a good group of really solid runners, and Lexa can serve to be a leader to that pack of individuals,” IU Coach Ron Helmer said. “It makes great backup to what Katherine and Maggie can do up front.”
Helmer said he expects efficiency from Barrott as the season progresses. He said Barrott hasn’t had a bad workout, and if she continues to race and practice consistently, then she will continue to grow as a runner.
Barrot said a large part of her success comes from two things she stressed in the offseason: maturity and focus.
“When people can start to visualize and believe that their goals are attainable, then certainly their sense of urgency and sense of purpose goes up,” Helmer said.
Helmer tells the runners that everything can only come together if players do what they're supposed to. For Barrott, that means she trained hard to receive the opportunity to be a top runner in Ohio since some of the other runners sat out the meet.
Three seniors currently lead a Hoosier team that’s eyeing to compete at a high level in the Big Ten. Once they graduate, a new group takes the reigns.
Barrott expects to be a part of that group.
“I think that she has seen some of us older girls set an example for her, and she is going to take what she has learned and pass it onto the younger girls,” Receveur said. “I think she’s really talented and can run a lot faster than she believes she can.”
Receveur shocked the Big Ten two years ago, culminating in an individual conference win last season. Receveur said she believes Barrott has what it takes to be the next in line.
“I think she can be a top runner in the Big Ten,” Receveur said. “She may not know that yet, but sometimes we surprise ourselves.”
Despite Barrott's individual successes, she said she still gives credit to her teammates and coaches for giving her something bigger to compete for.
"The IU athletics mantra is something bigger than yourself," Barrott said. "That's why you want to come here and be a Hoosier."
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