Who We Are: Grace Driskill
"Being able to compete in my hometown is really special. Growing up in Tucson, the university is a big deal. I would go to football games and see everyone wearing Arizona gear, so to now be a part of this program is very cool. It just makes sense to me." - Grace Driskill
Sport: Cross Country/Track & Field
Major: Computer Science
Hometown: Tucson, Ariz.
From standout local high school athlete to one of the top-performing Wildcat distance runners, Grace Driskill has repped Tucson proudly and embodied the Arizona Advantage as a hometown student-athlete. This key pillar of Arizona's "Wildcat Way" strategic plan focuses on promoting Southern Arizona as a premier destination for student-athletes, from far and away. Competing just down the street from her alma mater, University High School, Driskill recognizes the significance of getting to train and race in her hometown.
"Being able to compete in my hometown is really special," said Driskill. "Growing up in Tucson, the university is a big deal. I would go to football games and see everyone wearing Arizona gear, so to now be a part of this program is very cool. It just makes sense to me."
Entering her first year at Arizona in 2020, Driskill was unable to experience a normal fall cross country season due to COVID-19. Although it was a shortened winter season, 2020-21 had plenty of notable highlights for the freshman Wildcat. She finished in the top 10 in both regular season cross country races and was among the top three finishers on the women's side in all three meets. She went on to clock a 6k PR time of 21:07.3 at the Pac-12 Championships.
During the outdoor track & field season, she competed in both the 5000m and 1500m races, running a 1500m PR of 4:38.08 and the second-fastest 5000m performance for the women's side with a time of 17:07.99.
While her Tucson roots may have given her a unique connection to the university, growing up in Wildcat Country was not Driskill's only tie to the program. Her aunt, Amy Skieresz, was one of the most dominant runners in school history, bringing home seven NCAA titles during her career as a 10-time All-American. Coming from a background of elite runners, it's no surprise that Driskill has already become a leader within her short time in the program.
"It's been very special to compete for the same school as my aunt," Driskill said. "I've asked her for tips on certain aspects of running and she has shared some of her advice. It's been helpful to have that point of view, especially from someone in my family who I know so well."
Driskill is certainly not short of guidance, with an aunt like Skieresz and a coach like Bernard Lagat, who took over as head coach for the cross country program this season. Lagat has had one of the most successful careers in the sport, holding five American records as a five-time Olympian.
"Training with coach Lagat is awesome. He ran at such a high level so he knows so much about running from first hand experience. He's been helping me gain the confidence to be really competitive during races and competitive with myself in training. Sometimes, especially when you're transitioning from high school to college, it can be hard to be sure of yourself."
It certainly feels as though Driskill has found that confidence and hit her stride as a Wildcat. Now being able to compete in a fall cross country season like she is used to, Driskill and her teammates are determined to make the most of the season. Competing in the 2021 opener on September 4th at the George Kyte Invitational, she led the women's team, clocking a 2.5 mile time of 16:00.7 to take seventh. She finished her race with a strong kick, making her the highest-placing Wildcat of the meet and showing off the competitive flare that has rightfully earned her the nickname Dragon amongst her team.
Now in only her second year at Arizona, Driskill still has plenty of room to grow and prove herself as a force in the distance running scene and it's safe to say that her hometown of Tucson will have her back the entire way.