Cross Country Team Features Dynamic Duo From Colorado

Oct. 13, 2005

When women's cross country runners Kate Neeper and Victoria (Tori) Carter became teammates at USC, they thought it was great that they were both from Colorado. What they didn't realize is that they had actually competed against each other before in high school.

'Kate's mom looked it up, we didn't even know,' said Carter.

'We finished a few seconds apart, but we didn't know it at all,' added Neeper, the cross country team captain.

The two share more than just being teammates and having faced each other in high school, they both are outstanding student-athletes, showing an incredible ability to balance a wide variety of extra curricular activities, and excel in them all.

Neeper, a native of Parker, Colo, just resumed her USC cross country career after having missed last season with stress fractures in her foot and tailbone. In her first race back, the senior paced the Trojan women with a time of 19:11 at the UC Irvine Invitational on Sept. 10. She also is on the USC track and field team and is the school's 5,000m freshman record-holder with a time of 17:55.

She expects to compete in track later this year, with her best event being the 10,000m race. She finished in fifth place in the 10,000m at the 2004 Pac-10 Track and Field Championships.

Asked about what she feels her biggest personal achievement has been at USC, Neeper said, 'My 10,000m pace (6.21 miles) was faster than my mile time in high school, so I was really pleased to see how much I've improved.'

As if being a USC dean's list student with a 3.98 GPA (two A-minuses), competing in cross country and track and field and being a double-major in Spanish and international relations isn't enough, she also somehow finds time to be the lead resident advisor at her dormitory on campus.

Carter, a junior, is a national Junior Olympic champion in inline speed skating and served as Miss Colorado Teen USA in 2004. She hopes to compete in the Miss California pageant next year.

'It really forces you to know a lot about yourself,' said Carter of the experience. 'I've learned interview skills, public speaking, how to carry yourself and a sense of self-worth that will last me forever.'

Unfortunately, the Colorado combo share the injury bug too, as the Greeley, Colo. native Carter has yet to run this season due to a stress fracture in her right tibia. She has a best of 19:13 running cross country for USC and is the school's freshman steeplechase record-holder with a time of 11:36:77.

The cross country team has been riddled with injuries so far this season, but hopes to be healthy by the end of the season to make a strong showing at the Pac-10 Championships to be held on Oct. 29 in Tucson, Ariz.

The cross country program, under one of USC's longest tenured coaches, Tom Walsh, has had four consecutive NCAA qualifiers the last four seasons, with Sarah Ellis in 2001, Brooke Thomas in 2002 and Iryna Vashchuk each of the last two years. That's a first for the program.

Although it is a non-scholarship sport at USC, the women enjoy the competition and the team bonding, even if there isn't the same attention as paid to some of the other sports here at USC.

'Being on the cross country team has been a huge part of my whole college experience,' said Neeper. 'We are very team-oriented, run together, train together. I feel the girls know everything about me. It has been great.'

Of course, who would mind going to practice when some of their training sites are among the most beautiful surroundings in Los Angeles, like Manhattan Beach, Santa Monica Beach, the Rose Bowl, Griffith Park and Palos Verdes.

'It is definitely nice to go off campus and see nice places,' said Neeper.'It is nice to go run in interesting places.'

Neeper would like to someday work for the United Nations and cinema television major Carter would like to review movies, perhaps on television.Judging from the 'Colorado connection's' talents, drive and accomplishments already, chances are they will succeed.

By Dave Tuttle, Assistant Sports Information Director

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