Back to the Big Sky

By Joel Flom
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 25, 1996

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Emily Nay


Arizona sophomore runner Emily Nay will be returning to her home state of Montana this weekend to run in the Mountain West Classic in Missoula.

But the runner that her friends and family will come to see will be far different from the Emily Nay that left two years ago.

"As a freshman, everything is brand new, and I spent a lot of time adjusting, both to running at this level and college life," Nay said.

She had her share of ups and downs in her first campaign as a Wildcat. She started the season strong, finishing in the top three on the team in three of her first four meets. Nay took fifth overall in her first ever collegiate meet in Brea, Calif., and th en fourth overall at the Illinois Invitational in Savoy, her second career meet.

At the Pacific 10 Conference championships she slipped to fifth on the team and was unable to be a factor for the rest of the season.

"As a freshman, she put too much pressure on herself," UA head coach Dave Murray said. "That created a lot of undue stress."

Nay later learned she had a mild case of mononucleosis and had been running with it for a while. That was also a cause for her slide in productivity.

Nay had reasons to come to Arizona with high expectations. She dominated her home state in cross country in her four years at Capital High School in Helena. She was a two-time Montana state cross country champion. In 1994 and 1995 she won the Gatorade ath lete of the year for Montana. She was the state title holder in the 3200 meters and a member of the champion 4x400m relay. She owns her school's records in the 1600m and 3200m.

Although the Wildcats have competed in only one meet this season, Nay has already shown she is a new runner. She placed second on the team and fourth overall at the Jammin' Invitational in Brea, Calif., Sept. 7. Her time of 17 minutes, 49 seconds was 14 s econds faster then her time last year at the same meet, and was her second-best time ever at the collegiate level.

Being confident and learning to relax have been factors in Nay's turnaround.

"Emily is more relaxed this year, both with her running and personality," Murray said.

"She has more confidence, which is allowing her to run better this year."

The experience from her freshman year is also contributing to Nay's early success.

"Knowing the routine and how to prepare has helped me gain confidence and relax more," Nay said.

Nay also points to teammates Amy Skiersez and Viola Schaffer as reasons she is running better.

"I learned a better work ethic by watching Amy and Viola," Nay said. "I saw individuals that were focused and able to reach their goals."

Team goals is also something that Nay learned about from her first-year experiences.

"I lacked them (team goals) last year," Nay said. "This year I want to be a factor and do everything I can to help the team."

"I think that she has come to grips that she can't be No. 1," Murray said. "I am planning on her being a factor this year. I want to see her in the two to three range on the team. Amy, Viola and herself make a dominant top three."

Nay has also been a power in the classroom. In high school, she was in the National Honor Society and an eight-time all-state academic selection.

Nay is majoring in special education and would eventually like to get her masters degree in school psychology.

She is currently working as an intern observing classes in an alternative school, where the entire enrollment is pregnant teenagers.

Nay said she is excited about her trip back to Montana and being able to see her friends and family. This is the only time during the season her relatives get to see her race at the collegiate level.

Still, Nay said she is keeping herself mentally prepared.

"I am not going to put the pressure on myself," she said.