A champion isn't only someone who overcomes the competition to succeed, but overcomes adversity to compete. The University Of Evansville Track And Field team Has a young woman who has done both, putting the program on the map in the process.
"Train like everyone's better than you, but perform like you're the best," says University of Evansville Track and Field and Cross Country senior runner Anna Lowry.
That philosophy is easier said than done for most, but for University of Evansville cross country and track star Anna Lowry, it's a mantra that has landed her in the winner's circle repeatedly over her four years as an Ace. Most recently, she achieved her greatest victory, winning the 5-thousand meter run at the Missouri Valley Conference Indoor championships. The first MVC title for the program since it's re-launch.
I didn't expect it at all. I kind of went in with the gameplan, I just wanted to sit behind some of these top girls
and kind of see what they do, let them do most of the work. Then no one wanted to take the lead so I was in the position where I had the lead the whole time. I don't really like that a whole lot.
"One of the biggest things at conference, I called her the next morning, and I said," Anna, what are you doing?", says University of Evansville Track and Field and Cross Country Head Coach Don Walters. "This was at like 7:30 in the morning. She said, "Oh I went out for a ten mile run."."
Anna's success on the track translates to the classroom, where she sports a 3.79 grade point average, good enough to land her on the MVC Scholar-Athlete team, which was just announced this week. Her rise mirrors that of the U-E track team's, which she joined in it's infancy four years ago. It seems like the perfect fairytale, however the story almost got derailed before it left the starting line. Three years ago, Anna went to a routine pre-season physical, where it was discovered she had a serious heart murmur.
"At first it was a shock," says Lowry. "I kind of went through my whole life being healthy. I didn't expect anything out of the ordinary to happen like that."
That initial diagnosis threw Anna's athletic career and life into doubt. However second and third opinions allowed her to continue running, though she will need a heart valve replacement, at some point.
"When I got the clearance that I was still able to run, that was a big relief that I could still do what I've always loved in my life," says Lowry. "Since then I've been able to have a strong gratefulness towards running, that I'm still allowed to do it. Always think of that whenever I'm not really wanting to go run. I'm like, at least I'm still able to do that."
And it's that kind of determination and positivity that has gotten Anna to the pinnacle of her career, and begs the question how high is up for this human dynamo.
"Whatever how high it is, she's going to be there," says Walters. "She's that type of person, because she so well-rounded. You can't teach that stuff. You can't make that happen. It just happens."
"Every night I go to bed and I think about my goals and there's still a lot I want to do," says Lowry. "I need to remind myself that there are better people out there, but once I'm out there I need to prepare and race like I'm the best one out there."