The Road to Nationals: Liz Apgar
Nov. 18, 2009
Spunk and Spice
Freshman runner a story of talent, personality and 'spunk'
By Jeremy Hawkes
Liz Apgar swears that she doesn’t have a story. When you ask her about the most interesting things in her life she will dibble and dabble around the question and never directly answer it.
The freshman UA cross country runner's modest approach to the query could lead many to believe that she really is just that boring. However, if you poke and you prod enough you get enough of those bits and pieces to find that Apgar is far from it.
If worse comes to worse, simply ask a teammate and all your efforts will come to fruition.
“There's only one Liz,” offered fellow freshman Cami Jackson. “I feel like every girl brings a part to the team and Liz brings the 'Liz Part'.”
That “part” is the “spunk and the spice”of the squad as Jackson explained, from her dance routines in the weight room to the phrases she uses to the face she has in every picture.
Spunk and spice could be the best way to describe Apgar, and it's all those little bits and pieces that make up the 'story' that she may not believe she has
It’s not uncommon for everyone to have a member of their social circle that’s just good at everything they try their hand at - that one person who just seems naturally talented at anything that he or she decides to pick up.
For the UA cross country squad, Apgar may best represent that person.
Take running for instance. Unlike many cross country runners, Apgar never had any experience as a team runner before high school. Her father was a runner and often took her to races as a child and it was there that Apgar found her calling.
“I never played any team sports or anything like that at all,” Apgar said of her pre-high school career. “But I went to those meets and saw what it was like from a young age and knew it's what I wanted to do.”
“Now I'm one of those people I used to watch on the track.”
The San Diego native trained with her father, Lloyd, to prepare for her high school tenure which she began at Calvary Christian High School, a small private school that did not have any athletes to bush Apgar and had so little invested in cross country that the coach didn't even accompany her to the state meets.
Apgar jumped on the scene with a splash despite this, taking a fourth place finish at the California State Meet as a freshman and second the following year.
At that point, Apgar transferred to her father's alma mater at Lincoln High School, where he still owns the mile record. Her junior year was the first at the school after it was rebuilt and interest in the cross country team was limited. In fact, aside from Apgar only two girls were on the team.
Never one to let that hold her back, however, she began training with the boy's team at the school and was able to keep up with them at their practices – a fact she said was “very intimidating” to them.
She would go on to two more top-five finishes at the state meets and amass an abundance of awards ranging from being a CIF Champion to the being named the San Diego Union Tribune's Runner of the Year.
Oh, and all of these long distance results at the 5000-meter level came despite the fact that Apgar is classified as a “middle distance” runner specializing in the 800-meters, which gives one an idea of the young athletes versatility.
At Arizona, Apgar has come on and immediately made an impact. Outside of junior Maggie Callahan, Apgar is the only member of the UA squad to score points in all three of the squad's most recent races. This included hitting the 21-minute mark over 6000-meters for the first time in her career at the Pac-10 Conference Championships nearly a month ago and moving up into the fourth scoring position for Arizona at the NCAA West Regional Meet last weekend.
And her skills on the track or on the course are just a part of the quirks that show off Apgar's talent.
For one, she is quickly gaining a reputation as being an exceptional baker.
“(The guy's team) begs me to make cookies for them all the time,” said Apgar. “They get really excited when they find out I'm coming over to bake.”
She said that baking has been a part of her life since she was a young child helping her grandmother in the kitchen.
“Little kids always want to help even though they usually make things worse.”
While she doesn't remember the first thing she baked on her own, she did note that it “probably came out amazing.”
Her baking became limited once she arrived on campus, however, as the dormitory overs are usually too small to even allow a simple cookie sheet to be placed in them. Before coming to Arizona though, Apgar said she had mastered making cakes and that her sister has insisted that Liz make her wedding cake.
Her talents don't stop at just baking, either.
Apgar has taught herself how to sew, is quite artistic and even dabbles in making ceramics from time to time.
Her creative talents quickly gained her notoriety on the squad as her first “award” as a Wildcat came not from competition, but for having the best costume at the Track and Field team's annual Halloween party. Her rendition of “Prince” earned her first place honors on the costume that she designed and created herself.
Apgar is also a model student, graduating with the top-10 members of her senior class out of Lincoln and continues to be the epitome of a scholar-athlete at Arizona.
Apgar's skills and talents both on and off the the course have been a vital part of the team's success in not only performing but for coming together and bonding and keeping the positive group vibe this year's squad shares.
And only a freshman, Apgar still has plenty more time to make a name for herself at Arizona while creating a 'story' for herself and her legacy as the years roll along.