Women's Cross Country Feature Story
October 22, 1998
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Fourth-year cross country runner Jamie Sutherland has saved her best for last, her last season as member of the cross country team at Virginia that is. The co-captain of one of UVa’s deepest cross country team in years, Sutherland has established herself as the Cavalier’s top runner in her last year of eligibility. Not only has she finished first for Virginia in all four races this season, Sutherland has also placed herself among the top runners in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Among her accolades this season, Sutherland was named ACC Performer of the Week on September 22, after she won the Cavalier Invitational by setting a new personal-best mark of 17:31.20. Her time also set a new course record, shattering the course record of 17:43.00 set by Janelle Kraus of Wake Forest.
Such accomplishments are a new feeling for the petite Sutherland, who prior to this season finished no better than second for Virginia in any of her races. Her previous personal-best time of 18:13.40, which she set at the ACC Championships, earned her 22nd place at the meet. This year however, Sutherland has finished first for the Cavaliers in every race and she has finished no lower than fourth overall in any meet. Sutherland does not attribute her newly found success to anything specific other than hard work in the summer and a commitment to continuing working through out the season.
“I came back this fall ready to step up. I trained really hard last spring and over the summer, so when I came back for my final season I wanted to do well.” Sutherland is not one to rest on her laurels or to put her personal achievements above those of the teams. In fact, she attributes the majority of her success thus far to the cohesiveness and determination of this years squad. I think that the teams success and my success this year is due to a lot of hard work now and over the summer, she said. I just think people are committed to excellence. I feel like people really have a drive to reach success. They worked hard in the summer and now are committed to the team.
A week long preseason training camp held in Virginias western mountains was a turning point in this years squad, according to Sutherland. While running cross country is often perceived as a test of personal will and determination, Sutherland said that no one on this years team puts themself in front of the team.
“When we went to camp before school started, everyone realized with everyone running, we had a tremendous amount of talent on the team, she said. When we all got together, we realized that our goals of an ACC Championships, regionals and nationals were all goals that we were capable of accomplishing, but couldnt without the entire team being committed.”
Sutherland also credits her team with allowing her to perform as well as she has this year. “It is the reciprocal relationships that exists between the captain and her team that creates a winning squad,” Sutherland said.
“They (the team) support Cheryl [co-captain Cheryl Twomey] and I because we are the captains, so that really helps. Everyone on the team gets along so well and everyone really supports us as well. I think that has really helped me do well too.”
Indeed, Sutherlands individual success has led Virginia to one of its most successful seasons in recent history. The women finished second in their opening meet, the Lou Onesty Invitational, then captured the Cavalier Invitational where Virginia defeated perennial ACC power North Carolina. Most recently, the Cavs were named 1998 ECAC Champions as they won the meet held at Van Courtlandt Park in New York City. In the meet, Sutherland led Virginia with a time of 17:41.50, good enough for a second place finish overall.
With nine first-year runners on this years squad, the Cavaliers have an extremely bright future ahead of them. However, if Sutherland has anything to do with it, there is still a lot of great things to be accomplished this season.
“The talent has been here for the last two or three years, and now is the time for it all to come together. I dont think its anything new this year, but its just all coming together this season,” Sutherland said.
A trip to nationals always serves as motivation for the Cavalier runners, but this year it ia a goal that is very attainable for Virginia, according to Sutherland.
I definitely think that we have a great chance of making it, she said. Its not going to come easy for us, and it is definitely going to take hard work from everyone front to back. We are capable of it, we just have to want it.
With Sutherland leading the way, Virginia cross country is headed for unprecedented success.