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Junior Rosemary Barber finished fourth in the season-opening Lou Onesty Invitational on Sept. 10. Her finished placed her in the middle of nine Cavaliers who claimed the top-nine spots, en route to a perfect score at the meet. An ACC Champion in the distance medley relay during the indoor track season last year, Barber has switched gears to cross country and is looking to help the 12th-ranked Cavaliers back to the top of the ACC. This weekend, Virginia heads to Bethlehem, Pa., for the Paul Short Invitational. Races are set to begin Friday at 10 a.m.

Question: You were a part of Virginia’s perfect score at the season opening Lou Onesy Invitational. It’s a rare feat to accomplish a perfect score, what were you or the team able to take away from that performance?
Barber: Going into the race, Coach Vigilante told us that he really wanted to see us running all together. It was a pretty low-key season opener, so we were just trying to get a good race effort in and get a feel for racing cross country again. Not only achieving that perfect score, but also having the top-nine girls in the race just speaks to the strength and depth of our team this year.

Question: There’s a mix of new runners and old runners this year, with a strong freshman class working its way into the mix. What is that intra-squad competition like?
Barber: Our first-year girls are all amazingly talented and are a great addition to our already talented group of upperclassmen. We are all incredibly competitive, it’s almost impossible not to be and be good at our sport. However, in cross country this competitive attitude is focused towards team goals because it takes seven girls to win a race. We dial back this competitive nature during workouts because we know that we have to learn to work together and not compete with each other to build a stronger team. Only five girls end up scoring for the team but it takes the entire team to push each other to our team goals.

Question: The team gets back on the course this weekend, heading to the Paul Short Invitational. What are your expectations of that race?
Barber: Paul Short will be the first 6K race of the season as well as a much larger meet than the Lou Onesty. Coach Vigilante stresses that every race we aim to get a little bit better, a little bit stronger. This race is just another stepping stone to where we want to be as a team come ACCs and Regionals.

Question: What is it like to have so much time between races? Is it difficult to keep focused during training sessions?
Barber: Having a few weeks between races allows us to get good, solid training in when the races aren’t as important, so that we are ready when championship season rolls around. Coach Vigilante has used these past few weeks between Lou Onesty and Paul Short to put us through some good workouts that we wouldn’t have been able to fully recover from if we had races every weekend.

Question: You’re about to get into the main portion of the season. What are some of your expectations or goals for this year?
Barber: Our team has a lot of potential to do great things this year. If we all stay healthy and continue improving workout-to-workout and race-to-race, we should be able to better our placement at ACCs from last year, as well as re-take our Regional title from two years ago and finish out the season with our highest placing at NCAAs yet.

Question: You had a successful year on the track, indoors and outdoors. Do you have a favorite season? Or how does cross country stack up against track?
Barber: All three seasons are so different it’s hard to pick one over the other two. Right now, I’m really enjoying cross country because it brings in a team element that isn’t really present during the indoor or outdoor track seasons. However, I love outdoor track because I’m a middle-distance runner at heart. I love competing in faster, more speed-driven races.

Question: What is your favorite race?
Barber: My favorite race is the 1500m in outdoor track because it is a combination of speed and endurance.

Question: What is something that most people wouldn’t know about you?
Barber: Most people don’t know that for the first two years of high school track I was a 300m hurdler who couldn’t stand to run anything above 400m. Things are a lot different today.

Question: Being from Virginia, did you grow up a Cavalier fan? Had you always wanted to come to Virginia?
Barber: I didn’t even start considering Virginia until my senior year of high school. My sister was a first-year and I came to visit her and fell in love with Charlottesville. UVa really fit both academically and athletically, and now I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.

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