Six time record holder Sierra Mortensen balances cross country and academics

Jacob Weaver

Sierra Mortensen attended high school in Wichita where she, as a junior, finished eighth at state cross country. She enjoyed living in Wichita close to many interesting towns.

“I like the atmosphere. It’s a little smaller, yet it’s big enough where you can go to a different type of town and see different things,” said Mortensen.

Mortensen has a long history of cross country throughout high school. Her priority was basketball but she grew to enjoy cross country more in college.

“I have been running cross country since my freshman year of high school. In high school, I ran cross country to get in shape for basketball so I always planned on playing basketball in college. My freshman year at Washburn, I played basketball and ran cross country, but I decided to focus on running,” said Mortensen.

Mortensen does not play any other sports because of her commitment to running. Her studies also cut into her free time, but she has found ways to fill the little spare time she has.

“Well I’m a nursing major so I just run and study. I also like to cook and bake in my free time,” said Mortensen.

She is very excited for what the season has in store for her and the team. Mortensen already has her eyes on the next meet and is eager to race.

“We race conferences tomorrow and were all really excited. I think we feel very prepared and we will do really well. Our goal is top three at conference.” said Mortensen.

Training is crucial for cross country runners and keeping a constant rhythm  is key. Mortensen works hard everyday to improve her times, training seven days a week. These sessions are usually three hours long. She usually runs eight to 10 miles and she lifts weights twice a week. Mortensen has many placements and achievements in her cross country career through high school and college. She hopes to do better this season and start strong by working hard and place in her conferences.

She made nationals her freshman year for cross county and wants to do it again, having placed top 10 at the last two conferences. Finishing 11th at regionals her freshman year, she wants to get back to where she was. David Granato, head coach for cross country, is very proud of Sierra and her work ethic. Her daily attitude affects her team in a positive way.

“She has really bought in to the philosophy already, and truly exemplifies what a Washburn student athlete should be. She is a great example and leader to the other girls on the team, and I couldn’t be more proud of her attitude and work ethic on a daily basis,” Granato said.

Edited by Jada Johnson, Jason Morrison, Adam White, Jessica Galvin