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Tribe Athletics Q/A: Cross Country Standouts Balouris, Stites

Nov 15, 2013, 10:30 AM EDT

On Wednesday, the William & Mary athletics department published a nice article/Q & A featuring Tribe cross country standouts Elaina Balouris and Emily Stites.

The Tribe have been led by Balouris, the two-time CAA Championship individual winner, and Stites, who placed two spots behind Balouris in the race last fall and steps behind her in this year’s race. Balouris won two weekly honors this season, while Stites earned one weekly nod after an impressive showing at the Pre-National Invitational on Oct. 19, finishing eighth out of 300-plus runners. Balouris and Stites both earned All-America accolades a year ago.

As a team, William & Mary has posted two first place finishes – Spider Alumni Open (Sept. 6) and CNU Invitational (Oct. 19) – and two second-place finishes this season. The Tribe, not surprisingly, won their 19th CAA title on Nov. 2 at Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, Md.

William & Mary, currently ranked No. 19, will compete in the 2013 Southeast Region Championships later today. The national-qualifying race starts at 1:15 p.m. this afternoon.

The article, which is seen below, was written by Ashley Chaney.

‘Noted as arguably the best one-two punch in NCAA running right now, senior Elaina Balouris (Allison Park, Pa.) and sophomore Emily Stites (Wyoming, Ohio) are assumed to have a competitive relationship as the Tribe’s top runners. After sitting down with both women, however, that assumption could not be farther from the truth. Embodying a team-player mentality and genuine desire for the program’s overall success, Elaina and Emily are actually each other’s biggest supporters, and the two rising stars want nothing more than to bolster William and Mary’s program and shed light on all of those who help them achieve their goals. We sat down by the track in Zable Stadium to discuss their love of the sport and the partnership that keeps them one step ahead of the competition.

How would you describe the all-encompassing lifestyle of your sport? Is it difficult maintaining a training regimen that is so demanding?
Balouris: It’s pretty intense because everything you do in your life affects how you’re going to feel when you practice and race. We’re very focused and have learned how to manage our time well.

Stites: You really have to be dedicated and love the sport more than anything. Getting up early for double runs isn’t easy, and this is such a mental sport. You have to be tough and determined, and focusing on everything from sleeping to eating to recovery is all crucial.

What is going through your minds on runs? Does it vary on training days versus race days?
Balouris: Training is really casual and fun, we all chat together and talk about our days. Twice a week we have runs that are a lot more intense, so in those instances we’re thinking about racing and how we can improve.

Stites: Yeah, all of our training groups have different dynamics. And on workout days, it’s really important to visualize the race, really channel it and prepare for that moment. Racing for me is the simplest, just get from point A to point B as fast as you can.

Balouris: In races, Emily and I are pretty much side by side the whole time, so we use each other to build confidence and take risks because we know we’re doing it together.

Stites: Absolutely. When Elaina is next to me, it’s really comforting. It just feels like we’re back in Williamsburg doing a workout together.’

To continue reading the feature on, click here.