Freshman cross country runner Kristen Stevens is already building her individual resume. Yet, the only accomplishments the Succasunna, N.J. native cares about are those of her team as a whole.
In each of her first two career races, Stevens earned honors both as the NEC Athlete of the Week and NEC Rookie of the week.
She finished first in her inaugural collegiate race at the Quinnipiac Invitational on Sept. 22.
“I was very impressed with her first race. She didn’t show any first race nerves,” Quinnipiac track head coach Shawn Green said.
On Oct. 7, Stevens finished 11th overall and first among Quinnipiac runners at the New England Championships in Boston. Her time of 17:54 outpaced the field’s second-fastest freshman runner by eight seconds.
“Up against the very best competition in New England she wasn’t intimidated and she ran a very aggressive race,” Green said.
Despite such individual accomplishments, Stevens mentioned the team’s surprising fifth-place finish in the New England Championships as the highlight of her season so far. Historically, the Bobcats had never placed higher than ninth in the event and were ranked just eleventh in New England.
“I like focusing on team accomplishments versus individual accomplishments,” she said.
In addition to placing her team before individual efforts, Stevens places academics above athletics. She majors in physical therapy and Quinnipiac’s strong program played a major factor in drawing her to Hamden.
In addition, Stevens immediately found herself drawn to Green.
“I really liked him, he seemed like a great coach,” she said.
The positive feeling came on both sides of the recruiting process.
“Right from the first time we met her she’s just got a great personality and we could tell she was going to fit right in,” Green said.
Stevens signed with the Bobcats in early November of 2005.
Adjusting to college is never easy, and the process is only complicated by participating in a collegiate sport. Yet Stevens finds she can apply the work ethic developed in track to the rigorous course load of a physical therapy major.
A few months into her college experience Stevens is pleased with her decision to come to Quinnipiac citing classes, team and Quinnipiac in particular.
“I love it so far. I am so happy I came here,” she said.
Injury posed a problem for Stevens as she adjusted to collegiate athletics. Stevens missed a month and a half of running, including the first two races of the season.
Her results at the Quinnipiac Invitational and New England Championships express the resiliency with which Stevens responded to that injury.
Stevens’ emphasis on team accomplishments stems from her career at Roxbury High School. Her high school team twice won state championships and the national championship once.
This emphasis on the team fits in well with Quinnipiac track.
“We’re not just looking for the fastest people we could find. We’re looking for the fastest people whose personality is going to work with this team,” Green said.
Stevens is part of a strong Quinnipiac women’s cross-country recruiting class. Both Stevens and fellow freshman Lindsey Pierret are in the Bobcats’ top five group of runners.
“We’ve got a great group of freshmen that are going to develop into really solid runners for us,” Green said.
Stevens clearly understands that despite such a strong start, many races lie in front of her.
“I’m not putting too much emphasis on it because it’s a long four years in front of me,” she said. “I just want to make sure I keep driving myself to get faster.”