Q&A with Women's Cross Country Junior Melissa O'Rourke

Oct. 11, 2006


Recently, cross country junior Melissa O’Rourke sat down with the media relations staff to talk about the ongoing season. The teams travel to NCAA Pre-Nationals as a tune-up for when KU hosts the 2006 Big 12 Cross Country Championships on Oct. 27 at Rim Rock Farm.

O’Rourke had a dynamic start to the season, leading the team with a sixth-place finish at the Bob Timmons Invitational, helping the team win the event. At the meet, which was held at Rim Rock Farm, O’Rourke posted a personal-best 6k time of 23:14.51. At the Roy Griak Invitational, she placed 114th, good for second on the team, in a time of 23:31.0.

This weekend, the cross country teams head to the NCAA Pre-Nationals, hosted by Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind. In the same event last season, KU placed fourth. Once again at the event, the Jayhawk women will be running in the open division to gain valuable experience as they prepare for the Big 12 Championships.

1. Do you think Rim Rock Farm is one of the more challenging courses you’ve competed on?
“It is probably the most challenging I have ever ran on, mostly because of the hills and because the terrain is so rough. I do like it alot though, because it is our home course and we get to train there.”

2. Do you have a favorite landmark at Rim Rock Farm?
“I know that the famous landmark is Billy Mills hill, but that is definitely not my favorite. I like the covered bridges. I think they are very neat, especially around this time of year, when it is very pretty.”

3. How would you say you’ve competed so far this season?
“I am happy with how the season is going. I set a PR at the Bob Timmons Invitational and that was a great way to start. I am excited to see what I can do this weekend because I’ve never ran in Indiana. I am excited to redo the Rim Rock Course again and try and do better. “

4. What is the mood of the team heading into the weekend?
“We want to stay tough and work hard. We want to continue to work hard against other teams. I think we stick together and we’ve now gotten it into our heads that we need to go after the other teams.”

5. What have you learned from Coach Redwine and Coach Clark in your time at KU?
“They have really helped me become mentally strong and mentally tough. They want me to develop the right mindset heading into a race and what I need to focus on before and during the race.”

6. What are your goals for this weekend’s event?
“My personal goal is to run strong and fast, since I’ve never run there before. As a team, I just want us to do well, finish better than last year and build our confidence up as we head to the Big 12 Championships.”

7. What changes have you seen in the freshman class throughout the season?
“They have become really strong and have been very impressive. I think they are strong freshmen and will continue to gain strength. I think they are not as intimidated by the girls they are running against and they will only getting stronger as the season progresses.”

8. When did you discover your abilities as a distance runner?
“Both of my parents run a lot so I was brought up knowing I could probably run well. I never really wanted to because it never sounded that appealing. And then in high school, I started winning a lot and it started to become easier. It was about that time I noticed that I was gifted at it. Now I love running and couldn’t imagine life without it.”

9. If you could trade places with one other student-athlete on campus, who would it be and why?
“I would probably choose Julian Wright, mostly because he is so tall. They (basketball players) demand your attention because of their size. I have always wondered what it would be like to be that tall.”

10. What would you tell students as to why they should come out to Rim Rock Farm on Oct. 27 to support the cross country teams at the Big 12 cross country championships?
“It is a fun event. The course allows people to get close to the competitors and cheer them on. You also get to see people in a lot of pain, which can be quite entertaining. They can feel lucky that they don’t have to do it.”