Elizabeth Hilfrank ’18 claimed All-American status this past cross country (XC) season — the third to do so in school history. She snagged XC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, claimed all-region honors and locked up a first-team all-conference spot. At one point during the season, she won three straight races. I had the chance to speak with the All-American and learn more about her accomplishments and inspirations.
Andy Milone: You won three races last season and were top 10 in a lot of other races; what do you thinking was clicking in those races? What were you doing well?
Elizabeth Hilfrank: A lot of it was confidence and training. Coach [Aubrey] Shenk is always saying trust your fit. Because I put more mileage on over the summer and I worked hard to get that point, I just went out with the confidence — thinking that there was no reason that I shouldn’t be at the front of the pack.
AM: Do you feel as if this confidence was solely because you put on more miles during the preseason? Was this the case in prior seasons?
EH: I definitely followed the summer training schedule more than I ever had [in previous seasons.] This impacted me because I came back [to school], and preseason didn’t destroy me like it usually does, so I do think [summer training] was a large part of it. It was also largely maintaining the lifestyle, like the three legged stool that Coach Shenk always talks about — eating, sleeping and hydrating. It was all coming together this year. I had the focus since last year, I knew I was so close [to qualifying for nationals]. It was all the little things that were going to [lead me to getting a] national spot this year.
AM: Did you have a favorite race?
EH: My favorite race was at Paul Short. It’s always been my favorite race just because it’s so big, so huge and I had the chance to win that one too, which is always fun. There’s a ribbon that I got to pass through.
AM: Do you have a particular mentality going into each race?
EH: I really try not to stress myself out. Coach [Shenk] usually comes up to me, and asks ‘what are you thinking?’ My answer is usually nothing because if I think too much, then the race takes a turn for the worst. That actually happened at regionals where I was a little more stressed than usual. I think going into each race with an open mind is key — and trusting yourself.
AM: Do you have any past mentors that you could credit for some of your success, or someone you look you up to?
EH: I would say my sister because she’s the one who first got me into running. She bought me my first set of spikes, my first [running] watch. She ran in college, so watching her develop and get faster is something that I followed.
AM: Is there any specific advice you’ve taken from her? Or, is there something that you’ve watched her do that you try and implement when you run?
EH: She taught me to never give up, despite injuries that might come up, or unfortunate circumstances that may make you run not so well that day — just to keep working through it.
AM: Were there any unfortunate events that you had to overcome — maybe in past seasons?
EH: Definitely in past seasons — I’ve had three stress fractures in my foot. It’s always a rebuilding process after six weeks walking in a boot and building [my strength] back up.