Hard Work Leads ASU's Prescott To Success
by Ryan Reiswig
Football Hall of Famer John Madden once said, "I would have all of my offensive linemen wrestle if I could," referring to the skill set wrestling would give a football player to enhance his abilities.
Although her story involves entirely different sports than football and wrestling, Arizona State's Lindsay Prescott took a similar path to her career in cross country.
"Back when I was in third grade I played on the soccer team, and my parents noticed I was getting tired playing," says Prescott. "At my elementary school, there was a cross country and track and field team so I joined that, then stuck with running."
ASU is certainly glad she did not turn her attention back to soccer as she has become a standout on a Sun Devil cross country team that has qualified for the NCAA Championships 12 years in a row. Prescott is also making a name for herself in ASU's history books, where she is now ninth on the program's all-time 10,000 meter list.
Despite her recent success, cross country did not come naturally to her.
"When I started running, I was awful," said Prescott. "I just stuck with it and got better."
Get better at it she did. A 2008 graduate of Sandra Day O'Connor High School in Phoenix, Ariz., Prescott not only lettered in cross country but also track and field all four years of high school.
It is no surprise that after her senior year Prescott decided to become a Sun Devil, as there are currently four Sandra Day O'Connor graduates on the women's roster. The Sun Devils had their eyes on Prescott from her freshman year.
"I remember when she was a freshman in high school, watching her compete and win the state title," says ASU head coach Louie Quintana. "We were excited at that time to see her really develop and watch her whole high school career."
Recruiting in cross country is a bit different than recruiting for other college sports, where there are a multitude of statistics and skills to measure. For instance, a football coach will test a player's strength, speed and footwork. In cross country, coaches often see only one thing, a runner's race time.
"In cross country when you're recruiting, sometimes it's a crapshoot because you're recruiting on some (finishing) times, good marks and what these kids have done," said Quintana.
When it came to Prescott, Quintana did not only recruit her for her running style or her successful marks.
"She was really, really gritty and tough. I really enjoyed that," says Quintana. "She's probably not one of the smoothest runners out there. She's not one of those girls popping off the ground and looking awesome. She just kind of grinds away. She's a shuffler, the prototypical cross country slash 10,000 meter runner on the track."
Once at ASU, Prescott learned quickly that college was going to be a lot tougher than high school. In high school, Prescott says she would run 30 miles a week, whereas in college she's running 80 miles a week. This transition was made easier as one of Prescott's current teammates, also her teammate in high school, helped show her the ropes.
"My teammate, Camille [Olson], went to my high school as well and she's a year older than me, so I trained with her going into my freshman year at ASU," explains Prescott. "It took me awhile to get used to it my freshman year. It was a struggle. Those workouts killed me."
Hard work is vital to any athlete's success, especially when competing at such a high level of competition. For Prescott, the hard work is done as much in the offseason as it is during the season.
"Whatever Louie tells me to do, I just do it," says Prescott. "If he says run 80 miles a week, I'm going to run it. I gradually worked my way up in mileage each summer. I think it's really important to have a good summer. That can make or break your season."
Prescott's willingness to put the hard work in is the main reason she is where she is today. With all the blood, sweat and tears, one would think she has an ultimate goal in mind. Prescott has several.
"Getting All-American. Make the U.S. National Team in track," says Prescott. "I also want our team to continue to go to the national meet. We've been going for 12 years straight, so I want to keep that alive."
Quintana thinks Prescott has all the intangibles to do it.
"She has the toughness, the grittiness, the attitude, the willingness to put the work in to be great," says Quintana.
Is that what separates her from the other runners?
"That and the fact that she doesn't put her hair up," jokes Quintana. "She's one of the few girls out there with her hair running wild, which probably drives people crazy."