William and Mary junior Elaina Balouris, a 2010 Hampton graduate, placed 13th in the NCAA Division I cross country championships.
Elaina Balouris could not have picked a better setting for a breakout performance.
The William & Mary junior ran what she called the best race of her life to place 13th in the NCAA Division I cross country championships Saturday in Louisville, Ky.
The 2010 Hampton graduate finished in 19 minutes, 56 seconds to earn All-American status. The 13th-place finish far exceeded her prerace expectations of finishing in the top 40.
“I think about things very mathematically,” she said. “I was seventh in the regional meet, and there are nine regions, so I thought I would be around the 60s, but hopefully, I could have a better race and be under 60.”
Near-perfect conditions and race familiarity — it was Balouris' fourth time on the course — played a factor, as did help from her team, which qualified for nationals for the first time since 2005.
“It was a pretty big deal for us to even be at that race,” Balouris said. “So there was no pressure on our team to do well because no one really was expecting us to be a threat.”
In a field of more than 250 runners, Balouris felt relaxed with her teammates beside her at the starting line. Those same teammates had helped push her to her most successful season, including wins in the W&M Invitational and the Colonial Athletic Association championships.
“I think it's just taking the experience I've had from the last two years,” she said, “and also just focusing on my mental state during the race because as long as I run calmly and confidently, I race very well.”
Balouris was running 75-80 miles per week for the bulk of the season. And there isn't much of a break for making the switch from cross country to indoor track. Next up is the Liberty Invitational on Nov. 30 in Lynchburg, Va., which serves as a qualifier for the ECAC championships.
After that, Balouris will take a week off from running, followed by a week of easy running every other day. Then it's back to the grind, albeit with a greater sense of belonging among the nation's elite after her NCAA performance.
“It definitely was a big confidence booster for me because I know that I'm going to be able to be with those girls in the spring, too,” she said. “Last year, I was kind of not at that level yet. Now I know I'm at that level.”
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our
Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent
via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.