by Stanley Lee
Nov. 5, 2008
Reprinted with permission of the author.
Her giggle is infectious and her racing strategy has served as a prime example for her younger teammates.
Leading her team like she has all season, Pepperdine sophomore Chelsea Wishard (Kaua'i '07 of Lawa'i) finished third at Saturday's West Coast Conference Conference Cross Country Championships in Belmont, Calif., finishing the 6-kilometer course in 22 minutes, 7 seconds. Wishard earned All-WCC honors and her finish was the best by a Pepperdine runner in nine years.
"Last year, she finished 33rd in 23:52," Pepperdine coach Robert Radnoti said. "She did a 22:07 under much worse conditions with rain and mud. She improved a couple minutes in one year. That's really awesome."
Wishard has been the Waves' top finisher in all seven races she's entered this season. She opened the season with a victory in a dual meet against Loyola Marymount and has had six top-15 finishes, including a third at the Sept. 20 Big Wave Invitational at Kane'ohe Klipper Golf Course, where she ran in front of family members and her best friend from high school.
Radnoti said Wishard's giggle brings "great spirit to the team," but she knows when it's time to focus.
"The world is there for her in fun," Radnoti said. "She thinks, 'Don't take this too seriously and go out there and take care of business.' "
At the WCC Championships, Wishard stayed with the front pack at the beginning of the race. She was in sixth during the final lap of the course, before closing in toward the end.
"She brings a well thought out race plan, conservative in the beginning, moves her way up," Radnoti said. "She's running even splits. For a young athlete, it is difficult to develop.
"Others go out too hard and die, and she comes along and picks people off. For our younger freshmen, we've been using Chelsea as a role model for their racing strategy."
Wishard's improvement was bolstered by a summer training program that started with strength training and running as she stayed on Malibu, Calif. campus for summer school. She then continued logging in miles and training on her own back on Kaua'i. Work done during the summer, when coaches aren't around, plays a big part in setting the tone for the fall season.
"She is really diligent about doing what we asked her to do," Radnoti said. "That's probably one of her best characteristics. When we set out the program, she said 'OK' and she did it in Hawai'i."
Wishard finished third at the state cross country championships as a senior and won the 1,500-meter run at the state track championships as a junior and senior.
Pepperdine's next competition is the NCAA West Regional, which takes place in Palo Alto, Calif., on Nov. 15.