Whether it is in sports, education or every day life, everyone wants to be remembered for something.
For Bellevue University’s sophomore cross country runner Lorena Ramirez, she has already cemented her name in the Universities record books.
Ramirez is the first runner in the short history of the Bellevue University cross country team to earn a trip to the NAIA National Championships after finishing 10th at the NSAA Conference Championships.
Ramirez ran a 20:56.6 in the snow covered, frozen terrain to earn her spot at the National Championships.
Ramirez’s stellar season started last season in track and she used that momentum in the off season to train hard with her teammates.
As for expectations however, Ramirez just wanted to see how the season played out.
“I didn’t know what to expect because there were a lot of new girls coming in,” Ramirez said. “Last year I didn’t have really anyone to push me or to run with and this year with the new girls, I could run with them. I knew because of that I was going to do better and I did pretty good last year but wanted to do better this year.”
As for specific off season training, Bellevue head coach Craig Christians said he trusted Lorena and all of his runners.
“I really trust the kids to work on their own and we don’t give them a lot of specific detail,” Christians said. “We do enough of that when we get to the season. Lorena had a great breakout season last fall and then last spring, she was all conference in track and that’s intrinsic motivation. I knew that she would do it and I didn’t have to go out and tell her to work hard. She was going to do that on her own. That is what she has done from the minute she stepped foot on campus.
“The 5k is just kind of that race where she can combine her strengths and her endurance with the speed that she does have. It is kind of a perfect blend and that is where she has been successful.”
Lorena first broke 20 minutes at the Briar Cliff Invite, where she finished 11th with a time of 19:54. This race gave her the confidence she needed to motivate her throughout the rest of the season.
“It was my first time running 19 minutes and it was a crazy race and I knew I was going to do it but once I actually did it, I felt more accomplished. I could see the goal ahead of me.” Ramirez said.
Coach Christians could not point to an exact race that shifted Lorena’s season, but he did see her start to really enjoy herself more.
“I don’t know if I can point to a specific race but surely success breeds that desire and we had some success early on. I think she found an enjoyment in running that she may not have had previously,” Christians said. “I think she even mentioned it to me one day that she was really having fun and when you find that enjoyment in it, you just go out and keep doing it.”
Over the offseason, Lorena wanted to focus on speed work and improving her late race burst.
“I wanted to focus on running faster (speed),” Ramirez said. “During the summer I ran (7:40) pace and that was faster than I ran in the season but I just wanted to get faster and try to get some speed work in over the summer.”
She has done that and much more. Something that is obvious when watching Lorena and talking to her is her dedication and mindset. This was evident in the NSAA Conference Championships when she embraced horrendous conditions to clinch her spot in the National Championships.
As for her coach, he could not be more proud and impressed with his talented runner.
“It’s nothing short of remarkable in my opinion,” Christians said. “Lorena broke 22 minutes barely once in high school and to be two minutes plus faster than that right now really speaks to her hard work more than anything.”
Christians added that “My expectation for her is that she be competitive because she was last year but right away she was mixing it up with some of the better runners and that exciting. It helps propel our entire program forward so selfishly that’s something I like. I can say Bellevue University has a national qualifier in Lorena Ramirez.”
Lorena kept the magic rolling at the National Championships over the weekend, as she finished 128th out of 340 runners. She ran a 19:38, missing her season best by just a few seconds.
There was an impressive statistic to come out of this race. Ramirez only finished behind one other NSAA runner after finishing 10th at the Conference Championships. This is a great benchmark to how quickly Lorena is improving each and every day.
Lorena is only a sophomore so she still has two years left to make her mark even more on the program. Lorena does have a specific goal she wants to hit in the future.
“I want to hit 18 minutes,” Ramirez said. “I just really want to do (well) and I really want to work hard in the winter and maybe run faster during track season. I really want to break 18 minutes or get close to 17 as much as possible.”