Barbara Strehler is a freshman on Virginia's cross country team this season. The Richmond, Va., native has found herself among the scoring Cavaliers at the past two meets, and even out-leaned a competitor at the George Mason Invitational to help UVa to an upset victory over then- No. 11 Georgetown.
The Cavaliers will take this weekend off to continue preparing for the upcoming ACC Championships (Oct. 31) in Cary, N.C.
Question: You've run a few races now in a Virginia uniform. How has the transition to the collegiate race been?
Strehler: Honestly, a race is a race. You run hard and fast and try to get the best place you can. The biggest difference is that everyone is fast in collegiate racing, so you automatically run faster than you would in high school.
Question: Is there a big difference between racing a high school course and one in college?
Strehler: In high school, we only ever ran a 5k. I have run two 6k races so far and didn't even notice the extra 1k during the race. Every course is different, but I have only experienced two so far, so I don't really have much to say there. I will say that Panorama is a beautiful course and we are so lucky to be able to train and race on it.
Question: How intense are your training sessions and what have you learned the most so far from your freshman year?
Strehler: The coaches do a great job of keeping training hard but do-able. Some days are more intense than others, but we have a great balance of easy days and difficult ones. Coach Vigilante and Coach Hunt always stress this, and I am being to see how true it is, but you have to relax. You can't let the little things get you down, or else everything will be that much harder. I am learning to relax for workouts and I am running so much better. Now I just have to apply it to races.
Question: Looking back to the George Mason Invitational, the fact that you were able to out lean the George Mason runner for an eighth place finish preserved the team's one-point upset victory over Georgetown. What was that moment like?
Strehler: I really had no idea that happened until after the race. I was just trying to beat the girl in front of me. We have a really great team and anything I can do to help the team get even better I am going to do.
Question: Throughout the course of the race, were you aware that the finish was going to be that close?
Strehler: I knew that I needed to beat as many Georgetown girls as possible, but I had no idea it was that close until after. Coach Vigilante just told me to keep smiling and try and catch some girls, so that's what I tried to do.
Question: What is your favorite part of a race?
Strehler: Well, sometimes you have off days, but my favorite part is when you first begin to kick. It is a great feeling when you still have some speed left for the end of the race and you can really finish tough.
Question: What has been the best advice that a teammate has ever given you?
Strehler: To relax and run with confidence. When you have put in the work, all you have to do is run.
Question: The ACC Championships are up next. As the top-ranked team heading into the meet, how has the team been preparing for the race?
Strehler: We are all just working hard and getting pumped up for the meet.
Question: What are your personal expectations of the conference meet?
Strehler: It will be the biggest race I have ever been in, and I am really excited for it. I really have no expectations for it; we all just need to run tough, have fun and pass as many people as possible.
Question: The race is on Halloween, and in the spirit of the holiday, what has been your best Halloween costume to date?
Strehler: About five years ago, my family drove up to New Jersey to trick or treat my grandparents for my grandfather's 70th birthday. I dressed up as an old miner for that, and my brothers had on crazy masks too. That was the best Halloween costume just because of how happy my grandfather was when we surprised him.