Westlife on Campus
By Ryan Kaczmarski
Former Rocky River High School track and cross country star Elyse Beirut is currently competing on the women’s cross country team at Elon University in North Carolina.
The 2012 graduate was a four-time state qualifier for the Rocky River Pirates cross country team, claimed state runner-up honors in 2011 and finished 11th in 2010. Beirut was named All-Ohio and was the Northeast District champion in both her junior and senior years of high school. She was also named Academic All-Ohio for three straight years (2009-11), earned the team’s MVP award in 2011 and helped the Pirates girls team qualify for the state championships three years in a row (2008-10) – with the team finishing in third place in 2010.
She was also a three-time West Shore Conference and district champion and is still the RRHS school record holder in the 5K with a personal record of 18:08.46.
In track, she was a two-time state qualifier in the 4×800 meter, finishing fifth in 2011. She also qualified for the state championships in 2011 and 2012 in the 3200 meter, taking seventh and second, respectively. Beirut is the Pirates’ record holder in the 4×800, 1600 meter and 3200 meter events. She was named to the All-Ohio and Academic All-Ohio track and field teams as a junior and senior, and was the team’s MVP in both her junior and senior seasons.
Beirut recently competed in, and won, her first collegiate race for the Elon Phoenix at the Wake Forest Demon Deacon Quad on Aug. 31. The race was a cross country relay, in which Beirut and her partner, Allyson Oram, won the meet with a time of 37:28.
Beirut (EB) took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions from West Life News (WL), and let us know how she is doing.
WL: What has been the biggest difference between running in college and running in high school?
EB: I have only raced twice so far, and our first meet was a relay meet. I had a partner on my team, and we each ran a 2,500-meter loop twice, alternating who was running. This was different for me, since I had never done a relay-style cross country meet. So far, though, that’s the biggest difference. We had a 5K (Sept. 15) that Elon hosted, but I’ll get to try my first 6K soon!
WL: How easily did you adjust to campus life and classes, especially as a student athlete?
EB: My adjustment has gone very smoothly for the most part. I’m really busy all the time, but I like being busy. Classes are challenging and I really have to focus on managing my time well, which has been the hardest part of my transition here so far. But overall, I think I’m adjusting really well.
WL: How did your experience running at Rocky River High School (both cross country and track) at such a high level help you make the jump to collegiate sports?
EB: My great experience running for Rocky River High School has helped my jump to collegiate running in so many ways. I had an amazing all-around support system in high school. I had coaches that made me the best I could be and prepared me so well for what running at Elon has been like, so far. My parents were there for me 100 percent of the time and so were my friends, and they still are. My parents came to watch me race this weekend! I talk to my high school coaches (Laura Brabant, Beth Huffman and Julie Achladis) regularly and am also still very close to my middle school coach (Kristina Turton). I feel like I was as well-prepared for collegiate running as I could have been because of my experience in high school.
WL: How have you meshed with your new teammates?
EB: I can’t say enough good things about my new teammates. The upperclassmen have been so welcoming and friendly, and have been extremely helpful in my transition to being a collegiate student athlete. The other freshmen are great, too. We all live together and get along well. I miss my teammates from high school, but I really couldn’t have gotten luckier with my new team.
WL: How did it feel to win your relay in the Demon Deacon Quad for your first collegiate victory?
EB: The Demon Deacon Quad was a fun way to open the season. It was different and exciting to run a relay for a cross country meet. And it was really exciting to have it be my first collegiate victory, but I didn’t do it alone – my relay partner, Ally Oram, is awesome!
WL: What are the team’s overall goals and your personal goals for this season?
EB: As a team, our goal is to win the Southern Conference and place as high as possible in the Southeast Region. Personally, my goals include adjusting to racing 6Ks in combination with 5Ks, and while you can’t focus too much on time with cross country, I would really like to set a new 5K personal record.
WL: (Nonsports question) Could you see yourself becoming a permanent “southerner,” or do you miss home?
EB – So far I really like it here and I’m enjoying the change from Ohio (even though I love it there), but I have no idea where I’ll want to live after I graduate. I will be home for Thanksgiving and winter break, and maybe for spring break, depending on what our track schedule will be.
For more information on Elyse Beirut and Elon University and its athletics programs, go to www.elonphoenix.com.