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Polish student to represent Harding at cross-country championship meetOriginally Published November 11, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated November 9, 2012 at 8:55 a.m.
SEARCY When Ewa Zaborowska was running in track competitions in Poland, she had no idea that she’d soon be running much longer distances in the United States.
“In Poland, cross-country is much shorter, just 1 or 2K,” Zaborowska said. “I was really scared when I found out I’d have to run 5 or 6K.”
But she got over her fear. On Saturday, she’ll represent Harding University at the NCAA Division II Cross-Country Championship at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mo.
“I just try to stay very focused on what’s going on around me,” said Zaborowska, 20, of her strategy. “But sometimes I get very tired, and I think to myself, ‘Why am I running cross-country?’”
Zaborowska, now a sophomore, came to Harding in Searcy after a friend from home who attended the school mentioned her running ability to the school’s cross-country and track coach, Steve Guymon. After emailing back and forth between countries, Zaborowska decided to make the move to Arkansas for school. In her two years on campus, she’s excelled not only as an athlete, but in the classroom as well. As an accounting major, Zaborowska holds a 4.0 GPA, Guymon said.
“She’s a very driven person,” Guymon said. “All of the other girls on our team are from the U.S., but I’ve told her, ‘I’d love to get another Polish girl on the team, but can we find someone exactly like you? I’d take 100 more of you.’”
This year’s women’s cross-country team is very young, made up of only freshmen and sophomores. Guymon especially admires the leadership role that Zaborowska has taken on as one of the team’s top competitors.
“We had two freshmen in the conference meet that made first team all-conference,” Guymon said. “There’s a great picture, after Ewa won, of her running up to those freshmen, embracing them and telling them how proud she was.”
During the qualifying run for nationals, Guymon said, Zaborowska worked harder than he’s ever seen her work. Though she wasn’t used to running so hard, she toughed it out for a personal best, keeping up with runners who will likely place high at nationals.
“She was dead at the end of that race,” Guymon said. “But I think it gave her a lot of confidence.”
For nationals, Guymon hopes Zaborowska places in the top 15. If she places in the top 40 in the nation, she’ll get All-American status.
Having already run the Nationals course in Joplin during her qualifier, Zaborowska feels good about the run and isn’t nervous quite yet. Because the national race is during Thanksgiving vacation, several of her teammates have said they plan to come watch her run.
“We are very close to each other and support one another,” Zaborowska said. “In Poland, I only had one other girl with me, so this is really different and fun.”
Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at (501) 399-3688 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Associate Features Editor Emily Van Zandt can be reached at 501-399-3677 or email@example.com.