Hard work has translated into success on the cross-country trails for Lauren Norton. The sophomore from Troy, Pa. has qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships twice in her first two years at UR.

Norton will head to Highland Hills, Ohio on Sunday for the NCAA Championships after finishing 12th out of 239 runners this past weekend in the NCAA Atlantic Regionals at Letchworth State Park.

How did you get started running?
Well, my parents both ran and they were good at it. I decided that it would be fun to run too.

What are you looking forward to in the race this weekend?
I’m looking forward to having a really good race hopefully. I’ve been really consistent all year with my racing times.

The weather in Cleveland is supposed to be 45 degrees this weekend. What is your optimal racing weather?

Around 50 or 55 [degrees]. It’s just the right temperature where it’s not too cold. When you take your stuff off you are not cold while you are waiting for the starting gun to go off. It’s not too hot either, so when you are warming up, you aren’t sweating profusely.

What do you think about when you run?
Just make it to the end basically and try to catch the people in front of you.

Which sport do you prefer, cross country or track and why?

I really love cross country. It’s more mentally tough than track is. With cross country there is more of a team aspect. It’s a closer knit community where everybody is doing the same thing.

In track, it gets a little bit more individualized. It’s still about the team, but it’s very much you do your part for the team versus everybody is doing the same thing together [in cross country].

Each part of track has a different element. I don’t know how the throwers get ready for their throwing events, but I know how I get ready for my track event.

How long of a break do you plan on taking after this weekend before you start training for the track season?
Probably about a week.

What’s your favorite pre-race meal?

A bagel with cream cheese.

What’s your favorite post-race meal?
Maybe cookies, whatever I can get my hands on.

You’ve run here for two years and you’ve made the NCAA Championships twice. What are some of your other individual and team goals?
All-American would be a nice start. Our team has had a goal for the last two years to make it to Nationals. We definitely have a shot [at Nationals] next year, too.

Willis is a member of the class of 2011.

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