Schilling making her mark

September 16, 2003|JILL ERWIN

Eileen Schilling didn't take long to make her mark in the collegiate cross country ranks.

The Centre College freshman was named the South Region freshman of the week, and then went out Saturday and set a new course record at Admiral Stadium with a time of 19 minutes, 3.83 seconds over the 3.1-mile course in the Centre College Invitational.

"She's going to do tremendous things for our program," Centre coach Lisa Owens said. "She's a late bloomer, and she's consistently gotten better every year. She has so much untapped potential, and I hate to say where her limits might be. I fully expect huge things out of her at conference and nationals. I fully expect to take a trip to nationals this year."

Schilling hasn't done anything to lessen those expectations, becoming the first Centre runner to be named the regional freshman of the week. The South Region is one of four regions in the country and encompasses 36 teams. Owen said the most impressive thing is that it's not an honor Schilling is nominated for. Instead, the selection board looks over results and makes its pick.


"Out of all those teams and who knows how many freshmen, she is the best new runner in our region," Owens said. "I would venture to say she is one of the best, if not the best, in the nation in Division III. It's something where they noticed her from the outside and said, 'Look at this girl and what she's accomplished.'"

For her part, Schilling is a little taken aback by what she has accomplished at this early stage of her college career. She graduated from Sacred Heart Academy, an all-girls school in Louisville, and chose Centre over several larger, scholarship schools.

"This is not what I expected at all," Schilling said. "I really didn't know what to expect as far as college running went. I'm excited. Hopefully I can improve even more as the season goes on."

She improved as the race went on Saturday. Schilling continued to stretch her lead out as the next closest runner finished almost 25 seconds behind her.

Schilling said that was more a byproduct of the race style than anything she consciously did.

"I have a hard time getting out fast, and I usually get faster as I go," Schilling said. "The race started out really fast, so I think that helped me get going."

The invitational was Schilling's first-ever victory, and Owens said she hopes the feeling of winning will push her even further as the season progresses.

"I fully expect her to rise to what we're asking her to do and she's got that taste of winning," Owens said. "She's got that killer instinct and a taste for blood. Now that she has a win under her belt, she won't want to get beat and she'll do anything to keep that from happening."

Schilling sees more good things ahead for the Centre women, who won Saturday's invitational handily.

"I think we can go really far," Schilling said. "I don't have specific goals. I just want to do as well as I can."

Owens said Schilling will remain positive throughout the season, and that shows when she's running.

"She's soft spoken, but that's not a sign of weakness," Owens said. "She's confident and having a great time. If you watch her, she smiles the whole way through the race. She's pushing her body to the limit, but she enjoys it. You can see it in her face. She's having fun."

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