When freshman Arabella Reece’s coach played Paramore songs to help calm her nerves, she knew she was in for an intense race. Layering up for a 6K race in 20 degree weather in Oshkosh Wisconsin, Reece prepared herself to compete against women from all over the country.
Reece was proud of herself for making it so far and performing her best, but she wasn’t ecstatic excited about her time of 22:54:1.
“I just wanted to do better than I did before, but that’s okay. You know, we’ve got years to go again,” Reece said.
Reece is the first female runner from Chapman to qualify for the national race. She placed 148th overall, making her the 16th freshman in the nation.
The race included teams and individuals from schools across the country. Reece, competing as an individual, said the experience of the race was a lot different than any other competition she had ever done. The runners were quite aggressive, she said, and without her teammates, the atmosphere felt different.
“I was very nervous, but I just tried to keep myself in check — keeping the gratefulness in mind,” Reece said. “It was a really amazing experience. ”
After the race, as Reece said she caught her breath after crossing the finish line. Her coach wrapped an aluminum blanket around her to warm her up because of the cold weather, she said.
“It made me feel like an astronaut,” Reece said.
Several runners were crying after the race because the pressure of performing was finally over, Reece said.
Head coach DeAndra’e Woods went to nationals with Reece and supported her throughout the event, Reece said.
This was the first time Reece had been exposed to competitors who run at the same pace as her. The competitors bumped and pushed Reece, Woods said, and this, paired with the below freezing temperatures, startled her.
“She worked with the climate and the temperature, which she wasn’t used to,” Woods said. “She wasn’t used to the atmosphere. So that was really cool. But it was definitely really competitive, was really fun too. I could see her kind of pushing through just trying to trying to grind it out.”
Reece said she was glad to see her parents as she crossed the finish line.
“I don’t know what I would have done without them. They were so proud of me and beyond thrilled with everything that I’ve done. They were all emotional,’ Reece said.
Reece competed in the National Collegiate Athletic Association National race as an individual Nov. 15. Reece qualified for nationals at the regional race Nov. 10 in Walla Walla, Washington with a time of 22:46:0 which landed her in the spot of the first female runner and second overall runner to attend nationals from Chapman.
Chapman coach Barron Maizland, who ran in nationals when he was younger, trained Reece.
“There was going to be a lot of pushing and shoving, and she wasn’t as happy, but coach Woods and I were both very proud of what she had done,” Maizland said.
Now that nationals is over, Reece plans to pursue her other hobbies, like music, skateboarding and snowboarding.
Reece has three weeks of break and then will begin training for the spring track season, even though official team practice doesn’t begin until Jan. 6.
Reece said running track is different than cross-country in that track is a lot more speed-based.
“My coach was saying, I have the potential to break all the distance records because there are so many different races. That would be amazing,” Reece said. “(I want to) enjoy myself, stay healthy, have a blast and enjoy track.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story reported that Reece was the first runner from Chapman to make it to nationals. This was incorrect. Reece is the first female runner to make it to nationals. The information has been corrected.