Pepperdine senior Chelsea Wishard calls Crystal Springs her favorite cross country course.
Based on her results there, it’s easy to figure out why.
» School: Pepperdine
The 2007 Kauai High graduate continued her consecutive run of strong performances at the West Coast Conference championships on Saturday, finishing in second place on that course in Belmont, Calif.
She placed third at the meet as a sophomore and a junior, becoming the only runner in Pepperdine history to earn top-three finishes three consecutive years.
"I felt that Chelsea’s (time was) amazing, considering the difficulty of the course," Waves coach Robert Radnoti said in a press release. "(She) finished right where I thought (she) would and … ran (an) outstanding race."
Wishard calls the course her favorite because of the importance of the race held there each year.
"It’s where we have the conference championship every year and it’s one of the big races our team gets really focused for," Wishard said. "Everyone gets really excited for it, and I like it because I’m comfortable with the course and know what to expect."
Wishard is the most decorated runner at Pepperdine in 10 years, continuing a trend that began in high school.
At Kauai, she was the state champion in the 1,500 meters her junior and senior years and holds the Kauai Interscholastic Federation records in the 800- , 1,500- , and 3,000-meter races. She led the Red Raiders to league titles in cross country four straight years and was named her school’s MVP in both cross country and track her sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
As a freshman at Pepperdine, Wishard competed in six cross country races, but did her best on the track team, where she set school records in the 800 and 1,500 meters.
"I used to, hands down, always like track more than cross country," Wishard said. "But since I’ve gone to college, I’m not really sure, but I’ve enjoyed running cross country a lot more."
Whether it’s running around the same track over and over or scaling hills and sprinting down steep inclines, Wishard is simply a fan of the outdoors.
Her love to run began in kindergarten, when she competed in county meets on Kauai, and has continued all the way to the collegiate level.
"I know it sounds kind of cliche, but I like it because it gives me a lot of time to think," she said. "I get all of my thinking done when I’m running and I just get caught up in looking around and seeing all these different things and just enjoying myself."
With her senior year of track still a semester away, Wishard will compete in cross country for possibly the final time at the NCAA West Regional in Eugene, Ore., on Nov. 13. She’ll need a top-25 finish there to compete in the NCAA Championships Nov. 22 in Indiana.
"West Coast (runners) are so crazy fast that it’s hard to qualify," Wishard said. "That’s why regionals is like our biggest meet of the season."