Stanford's Marcy Confident About Team's Ability

?By Jessica Salinas

Nine years ago, when her 7th grade P.E. teacher suggested that she consider running cross country because she had a good stride, Stanford's Stephanie Marcy took the advice and began running cross country. She hated it.

But when Marcy's father heard she wanted to quit, he convinced her to stick it out, at least for that season. By the end of that season, though, Stephanie loved racing. And she was good at it.

Her success in cross country only continued during her years at Sequim High School in Sequim, Wash. Stephanie set school records in the 800, 1,600, 3,200, and 5,000 meters and was also named the 2006 Washington state cross country champion. When it came time to select a college, Marcy's decision was easy.

"Stanford was my dream school since I was 11," Marcy says. "We were on a family road trip, [and] it was the first college I had ever seen."

After visiting Stanford as a recruit, Marcy knew she would be getting the best of both worlds, that of a student and an athlete, both roles that she took very seriously.

Stephanie does not waver in her achievements as a student. Currently, she is majoring in classics, which she loves and finds is the perfect mixture of her academic interests. She is concurrently pursuing a minor in history and writing an honors thesis in the classics department on women in early history.  Marcy is also an active member of Cardinal Life, Stanford's Christian community group that reaches out to student-athletes.

As an athlete, Marcy currently makes up part of Stanford's No. 17 women's cross-country team as a redshirt junior, where in 2009, she was Stanford's No. 1 runner in the NCAA Cross Country Championship. Additionally, Marcy earned her first All-American honors during the track season when she placed eighth in 10,000 meters at the NCAA Outdoor Championships just last year. Marcy is expected to be one of the top runners in the Pac-10 this season.

But mention this recognition, and Marcy will quickly point out that the team is "going through a transition period."

Marcy joined the cross country team in 2007, following a season in which Stanford had won its fourth NCAA title in five years. In 2007, the team began losing most of its runners to graduation, and the young team has been steadily rebuilding since then. Stanford is relying on athletes like Marcy, considered one of the team's most consistent competitors, in order to succeed.

"I had a pretty rough freshman year," Marcy says of the obstacles that she has been presented with throughout her collegiate athletic career. Marcy does not linger on these bumps in the road; however, she does show appreciation to those who helped her succeed from that point on.

"I owe a lot of my success to Coach Jason," Marcy says, referring to Stanford cross country head coach Jason Dunn.

"He really believed in me," Marcy says. "It made me want to believe in me. [Coach Jason] would pull me aside and tell me, 'I know you can do this.' "

Marcy says that this vocal support motivated her to work harder towards becoming the athlete that she is.

Although the Stanford women's cross country team has yet to win another NCAA title, they are far from backing down.

"We want to bring that back," Stephanie says, confident of the Cardinal's potential in winning the national title.

The team's determination is evident. At the recent Pre-National Invitational, the women's cross country team placed third in the White Race.

"We wanted the win, and we had the capability," says Marcy, who individually finished at 23rd. In the end, Stanford was 2 points behind second place Colorado, and 25 points behind winner Georgetown.

Just as Marcy has high aspirations for her team and for herself. She says she would like to earn All-American honors in track once again, as well as in cross country. Furthermore, she would like to place in the top-10 at the Pac-10 Championships.

For now, Stephanie and her teammates have their mind set on the Pac-10 Championships, which will be held in Seattle on October 30.

"We're ready," she says.