Freshmen Ease Into College Competition
Oct. 3, 2012
For some, transition can be hard and intimidating, especially moving from high school athletics to the collegiate level. The three freshmen on the Illinois women's cross country team, Amanda Fox, Lindsey Rakosnik and Michelle Frigo, were all very successful at their respective high schools and look to make an immediate impact on the Illini squad this year.
In high school, Fox was the 2011 Illinois cross country Gatorade Athlete of the Year after winning the state cross country championships. Along with her state championship, Fox also was the 2011 NXN Midwest cross country champion and placed ninth at the NXN Cross Country Nationals. In addition, she set seven new meet and course records during the 2011 cross country season.
Fox knew she wanted to continue her success on the collegiate level after seeing the success of others at her high school.
"The idea of running at the college level was very intimidating to me because of the intensity and the times that were being posted," Fox said. "As I followed some of the girls I ran with in high school, it was neat to see their success in college and it made me want to strive to get the same level."
Rakosnik also had great success during her four years at Glenbard East High School. She was the 2011 United States Track and Field National Junior Olympic 1,500m champion as well as being the Illinois 800m state champion the same year. The newcomer also placed seventh at the 2011 cross country state championships and holds conference, sectional and school records in multiple events.
"This year I'm going to focus on constantly improving," Rakosnik said. "I need to learn how to run better and get stronger. I think the only way of doing that will be getting more experience. College running definitely takes a lot more time. You have to manage a lot more with your time, practice and studying. It's also a lot more lifting and miles, so i'm really taking advantage of the athletic trainers."
At York High School in Elmhurst, Ill., Frigo earned All-State honors in track and field eight times throughout her four years. She also earned All-Conference and All-Sectional honors in cross country while lettering in cross country and track every year.
Frigo, like Fox and Rakosnik had jitters about coming to Illinois and competing at a new level but have transitioned into the new setting easier than expected.
"I definitely knew I wanted to run in college, but it was super intimidating," Frigo said. "The competitive nature was probably the scariest part. However, I think I've settled in really well."
You might recognize the last name Frigo if you know the cross country roster the last few years as Michelle's sister, Meghan is also on the team. Meghan is a junior and has made the Big Ten roster each of her years at Illinois.
"It's been a huge help to have my sister here," Frigo said. "Not only is she there to give me advice on running but we also hang out together. I go over to her house for dinner at least once a week."
Each newcomer has gotten over the initial fear of coming to Champaign and have settled in easily with the area, especially with their teammates.
"Being at Illinois has been surprisingly comfortable for me," Rakosnik said. "Being close to home is very nice. I've been lucky that me and my roommate (Fox) have clicked really well. Being a part of the team is great."
The three freshman have also found comfort in turning to their younger teammates for guidance, since five of the girls were in their situation just last year.
"They have helped me a lot by giving me tips on time management along with balancing academics and athletics," Fox said. "They have also taught me how to recover my body from the workouts and constant schedule."
At this time, Lindsey, Amanda and Michelle have all three competed in a race here at Illinois and the response from each was the same, it was really great experience, a good starting point and it made us excited for the future here as an Illini. The three have made immediate impacts on the squad and look to continue their success in years to come.