Written and Media by Dylon Niswonger.
Leadership in action requires more than just talent and the perception that the individual in said leadership position is just better than everyone else. Another misconception that compliments this is that certain individuals are simply blessed with extraordinary abilities. Talents are forged by the common principles of discipline and passion. The leaders worth following on an athletic team put in the time, value their teammates, and ultimately lead by example.
A leading senior on the Greenville University Track and Field Team is Lia Kruse. The success Kruse has had recently has been in virtue of the many miles on miles she has put in this past summer and winter leading up to our current track season. Distance runners by reputation run frequent miles and great lengths, but as a passionate runner, Kruse has built up a level of endurance that has wildly enough produced fifty-plus weekly miles. As the final quarter of her collegiate career progresses, Kruse looks to finish her time here at Greenville University with powerful energy. Her year thus far has been packed with lifetime bests and top-level races.
Kruse’s momentum kick-started during the fall cross country season where she delivered multiple outstanding races. The SLIAC Cross Country Championship was a highly anticipated race for Kruse as well as the rest of the team. The SLIAC championship races come with a great deal of nerves. It is ultimately what many of the athletes of the team spend the season training for. The pressures of this race motivated a 2nd place finish by Kruse. Then on November 11, 2017, Kruse delivered the 8th fastest recorded 6k under the Greenville Women’s Cross Country Team at the NCAA Division III Midwest Region Cross Country Championship with a time of 22:35.
As a leading distance runner, Kruse has primarily trained for the one mile and 3000-meter race. She ran the 3K twice during this indoor season, once at the opening meet, and again mid-season. She dropped her 3k time from an 11:10 to a winning time at Monmouth of 10:50. The mile race was a battle for Kruse throughout the indoor season. If you would have asked Kruse to share with you what her primary race was for the indoor season, she would have perhaps said the 3k, but after examining the season, it is clear her focus became the mile. Kruse raced the mile initially with the intention of breaking a time of 5:30. She went on to qualify for the 2018 NCCAA Indoor T&F Championship with a time of 5:24. The competition at NCAA’s was stiff and inspired a 5:23 finish for Kruse. After this performance, 5:20 became the desired time to beat, but Kruse faced disappointment at the Principia invite after putting up a 5:28.
A week later at the Carthage Last Chance Meet, Kruse ran the best mile of her life, picking up 2nd place and an exciting 5:16 finish, ultimately breaking 5:20. This conclusion to her indoor season has been a prime example of what hard work can do. The passion she has for this sport is contagious and her teammates cannot help but cheer and support her.
Brian Patton, the coach of the cross country and track team has expressed pride in her as well by stating, “She finally ‘got it’ over a year ago, and it has shown. She has put in a bunch of work. It has taken a great deal of time and effort, but she has put herself on a different level as far as performance and training. She has taken ownership in her development and in her team, and as a result, she is better, and our team is better.”
Kruse has clearly been intentional about her collegiate running career and has looked to have the best experience running for Greenville that she can. She has inspired athletes on her team through encouragement and by example. She has had a notable grade point average of 3.92 and has recently been helping lead the Bible studies for the women’s track team. She now looks toward the outdoor track season with significant mileage as well significant effort. I encourage spectators to keep an eye on her outdoor season.