After cruising to first place in first race, Alexa Cruz looks to develop as top runner

Isabel Miller

With a first-place finish in the Texas Invitational and a 16th place finish in the Texas A&M Invitational, Alexandria Cruz’s college career is off to a successful start. Cruz, a redshirt freshman from Edinburg, Texas has been running cross country since seventh grade, and she racked up numerous high school accolades prior to her attending UT.

For Cruz, the main difference between college and high school cross country is the competition. In high school, she would consistently see the same runners and focus on beating them year after year. In college, however, Cruz has been exposed to a higher class of athletes.

In her time at the 40 Acres, Cruz has had to adjust to college life both as a runner and as a full-time student.

“You’re a student-athlete,” Cruz said. “The first part of student-athlete is obviously student, so you’re balancing education while taking on, practically, a job. Running is your job.”

Cruz said much of her inspiration comes from her parents. Her mom and dad have been working since they were 13 to help their families. Cruz has embraced this work ethic as her motivation.

Cruz has learned the importance of balancing training and rest time. She has realized that not every day needs to be a workout day, and sometimes she needs to let her body rest as a response to the stress she endures.

Head coach Brad Herbster has been integral to Cruz’s development. His encouragement and dedication has inspired not only Cruz but the rest of the Longhorn roster.

“He is a really big motivator,” Cruz said. “He tells us never to doubt ourselves and not to think of ourselves as incapable of anything. It’s good to know that Brad is always there for us.”

Cruz’s goals for her freshman year include making it to nationals and placing in the top 40 of the national rankings, while her ultimate goal is to become an All-American. To achieve these goals, Cruz plans to focus on the little things, such as spending extra time in the weight room and picking up some extra mileage on the weekends.

Catch Cruz on Friday at 6 p.m. in the Longhorn Invitational at Balcones-Spicewood Cross Country Course.