Sophomore Christine Sparks has quietly been racking up first place finishes along with her other teammates on the women’s cross country team. Sparks took first in both the Bluffton University 5K Invitational as well as the Madison Kiwanis Invitational Title at Hanover College. She also helped lead her team to taking first place at the Lancer Invitational, finishing second as the Foresters claimed the top five finishers.
Numbers, however, mean little to Sparks.
“All those numbers don’t mean much to me,” she said. “Besides, I know I’m in it with my teammates. They are my motivation and my encouragement. We can count on each other and are always building each other up. I’m so proud of all my teammates and the work we have put in together.”
Part of what Sparks credits with helping her race to new levels is her heightened mental endurance.
“This summer I really worked hard on my mental toughness,” she said. “Besides the conditioning you need for cross country, you need to have a strong mental attitude. Without confidence you can’t race as well as you can.”
Sparks has overcome obstacles while competing, including injury and being lactose intolerant.
“I have always been one to get injured,” she jested. “This summer I was dealing with a long nagging hip injury. While overcoming my hip pain by faithfully exercising, I’ve had to start cooking for myself because the DC and HUB aren’t very lactose intolerant friendly. It’s been an adventure but a good challenge.”
Sparks and her team have a promising season left ahead of them with the hopes of reaching the Crossroads League Championships and NAIA Cross Country National Championships in the air.