Alisa Crueger-Cain ’20, a three-year Upper from Harvard, Mass., has amassed eight years of experience as a cross country runner. Since falling in love with the sport as soon as she began, Crueger-Cain has become an integral member of Andover Girls Cross Country. Crueger-Cain has impacted the team through her work ethic and skill as a runner, according to Head Coach Patrick Rielly and Captain Rhea Chandran ’19.
In an email to The Phillipian, Rielly wrote, “[Crueger-Cain] is a phenomenal athlete and a fierce competitor. She never gives up — in workouts or in races — and she sets an example for what it means to be focused and strong.”
Chandran added in an email to The Phillipian, “[Crueger-Cain] is a fantastic member of GXC. Since her [Junior] year, she has always been so positive and happy to be at cross country practice. Alisa is also a dedicated athlete. She takes every workout seriously and strives to improve. She always cheers for the other girls during workouts and races.”
Crueger-Cain’s skill, work ethic, and focus have earned her the accolade of The Phillipian’s Athlete of the Week.
Has cross country always been a passion of yours?
I love running. It’s really fun. I started because my brothers went to this running camp. I really wanted to go, too, so I joined them, and I started doing it.
So you just started from the camp — you had no prior experience?
It was mostly just the team experience… When I was in elementary school and middle school, I did this thing called the Junior Olympics. We had a team that went and there are multiple rounds: two rounds of regionals and then nationals. We all went as a team. Basically, cross country was associated with travelling for me. We would travel places, so that was really fun.
Do you have any key cross country influences at or outside of Andover?
Michaela Jones [’18] influenced me so much while I was here at Andover but also even before I came here. As I was running as a youth runner in elementary and middle school in regional and national races like the Junior Olympics… Michaela was a runner from another youth team but still a runner from New England like me. She placed really well at Nationals, and it was always an inspiration to see a girl from my region placing so well in really competitive races. Once I came to Andover, she had an even bigger influence on me. Not only is she super fast, she is a great teammate and a really supportive friend in and outside of [cross country].
How do you think you have improved over the course of your cross country career at Andover?
While here, although I have definitely improved physically and speed-wise, I think I have mostly become a better teammate. Before Andover, although I ran for a youth [cross country] team, I never really had a team to train with. Here, where the team is such an integral aspect of the sport, I have realized how much more enjoyable [cross country] can be. [Cross country], for me, is a form of stress relief, and having teammates to lean on and to lean on you is really special. Being on a team, I have learned to become more confident in my own abilities and strengths so as to push others on my team up to build their own confidence. Every week we do this thing called Secret Psych where we write a letter to one of our teammates and put it in their mailbox to encourage them and get them psyched for the race the next day; I think this is one of the many traditions we have that make our team special.
What are your personal and team goals for the season?
My personal goals for the season are to stay injury free and keep on getting stronger every day. I’m also hoping to set some personal records this season. I’m hoping as we train together as a team this season that we can keep on pushing each other to stay tough. By the end of the season, I really hope our packs start becoming closer and closer together timewise so we can have depth as a team. Deerfield was really tough competition for us last year, and if we keep up the hard work, I think we can beat them this year.
What do you usually do for training?
On a typical day, I would say we run around five or six miles. It depends on the day. We have workout days, long run days, easy days, and once a week we have an aqua jogging day. It really depends — we don’t do the same thing every day.
What are you most looking forward to this season?
[Deerfield] beat us last year, and they’re really strong. I’m hoping we can beat them. We have a really strong team, so we’ll see who’s stronger. We’ve been putting a lot of hard work in, and I think we have a good chance of doing well this year.