By Ross Millington
As a newcomer to the University of New Mexico women’s cross country team, junior Sammy Silva has come in and made an immediate impact for the Lobos during the 2013 season. The transfer plans to carry this success through her final year in the NCAA.
Placing third individually at the recent Notre Dame Invitational and helping her New Mexico team to a second place finish overall, Silva’s Lobo debut couldn’t have gone much better. The Lobos came within five points of defeating second-ranked Florida State, making Silva and the Lobos a force to be reckoned with on the national scene.
“I think Notre Dame made it clear that we are going to be a force this year, and I wouldn’t even say we laid all of our cards on the table,” Silva said of the race.
Silva noted that this was the first run out for many of the Lobos in the 2013 cross country season and that with more weeks of training under their belts, they will keep improving throughout the rest of this season.
“We had been training hard for weeks and to see that training produce such great results so quickly speaks volumes of our potential this season.”
Coach Joe Franklin was one amongst many that were impressed with Silva’s run at Notre Dame.
“Sammy ran very smart. She let others do the work early on and closed very well,” Franklin said.
Coming in as a transfer from Harvard University, the former Crimson came to Albuquerque hoping to be a contributor to what she saw as an already successful team.
“I knew what an accomplished team this is, and had always wanted to be part of such a program,” said Silva, who is staying conservative and grounded on her aspirations for her fifth year of eligibility.
“My training has often lacked the most basic consistency. I am hoping that now, having been healthy for more than a year, I can just worry about getting stronger.”
Injuries beset her time at Harvard, and once she had completed her undergraduate studies this past spring, Silva was on the look out for a university where she could use her fifth year to good effect.
“I mainly sought out elements that would hopefully contribute to keeping me healthy, as injuries plagued my undergraduate career. Staying at Harvard was not an option,” Silva said. “UNM had many of the factors I was looking for; a strong program, awesome team, great coaches, good trails and the altitude factor of Albuquerque was an added bonus.”
Coach Franklin echoed Silva’s comments about staying healthy, with that being one of the main aims of the season for the new recruit.
“The key is to stay healthy, do all the little things right, and if she does that I think she will be presented with some great opportunities.”
Silva has definitely settled right into her new home and team here in Albuquerque. The La Mesa, Calif., native is enjoying her time as a Lobo so far and observes some of the similarities, not differences, between UNM and Harvard.
“I have found the similarities to be more notable. I have come to find the same level of dedication and passion for running amongst my teammates here as I had at Harvard. The self-discipline and work ethic that my Lobo teammates possess is absolutely inspiring,” said Silva.
Those are powerful words that will hopefully carry the now seventh-ranked New Mexico women’s cross country team to the NCAA Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., in November, with all eyes on a program-best finish for the Lobos.
Franklin has been pleased with how Silva has adapted to her new surroundings, and says she has brought many things to the team.
“She brings a calm confidence, and she is extremely supportive of all her teammates,” Franklin said. This is something that will prove vital come championship season for the Lobos.
To date, Silva said she is yet to be truly satisfied with any of her personal accomplishments in the sport, but says leading Harvard to the NCAA Cross Country Championships last year was one of the most gratifying experiences of her career.
“It had been presented as a long term goal at the beginning of the season, and proved to be a completely uniting effort culminating in an unforgettable season,” said Silva.
However, her performance at Notre Dame gave a strong indication that as a Lobo she will be able to start turning in the type of performances that will satisfy her quench for success on the national level.
Ultimately though, Silva believes her strengths lie as a miler on the track, making her current cross country form even more impressive.
“I have always enjoyed the comradery of cross country, but I feel most empowered racing a mile on the track” Silva said.
Hopefully Silva’s passion for the mile will culminate in a hometown NCAA final in March, when UNM and the city of Albuquerque is set to host the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships.
“That is definitely a goal of mine,” said Silva, referring to the indoor championships in March.
But before then, the Wisconsin Invitational on Oct 19th and the rest of the NCAA cross country season awaits Silva and the rest of the Lobos.