“She’s a stud.”
“Fun to watch.”
These adjectives could be used to describe any number of athletes on the Pomona-Pitzer squad. But when I tell you they’re words used by fans and teammates to describe cross country and track phenom Maya Weigel PO ’17, you may want to add a few more.
Weigel capped her final cross country season with a second straight 2nd place finish at the NCAA Championships Nov. 19 in Louisville, Kentucky. With an observed high of 54 degrees, Weigel began the 6K race at 8 a.m. and finished 20 minutes and 41 seconds later, faster than any Sagehen has done before.
As far as competing in cold weather, Weigel says that “it feels really different because you warm up as you race and you finish with your face numb. But, I like to have the attitude that external factors don’t affect how fast you go.”
In her time as a Sagehen, Weigel has earned three All-American honors in cross country and two in track, was a three-time West Region champion; holds the school record for cross-country and the 1500 and mile for track, and was named to the SCIAC All-Academic team twice. After impressively winning five of seven races this season, including the NCAA West Regional Championships, Weigel was awarded the West Regional Runner of the Year and SCIAC Athlete of the Year.
“In terms of how I’ve grown from freshman year, I was nowhere near where I am now,” Weigel said. “It was a matter of taking running more seriously … because I started to enjoy it more, I started training harder, and doing well made me want to keep working towards it.”
Weigel has had her fair share of accolades, but when you’re short of competition, as she is, it’s more of a mental challenge to stay motivated.
“It becomes not so much that I want to win this and place this, but I want to improve my times,” she said. “Or do well for my coaches and my family because they’re watching me, which puts some pressure on, but I think I put more pressure on myself. The people who are closest to me really just care if I’m happy with how I do.”
Weigel’s athletic success doesn’t just stop upon completion of her cross country season. There’s still the spring and her last shot at beating out her 2016 seventh place finish in the 1500 at Nationals.
“I actually do have a list of times I want to hit,” Weigel said. “They’re a little lofty, especially as a second semester senior, there’s a lot of things you have to do [before graduation]. I would be bummed if I don’t get them, but if I feel like I pushed myself to my max I can’t be bummed.”
So how does this amazing athlete take care of her body and stay in good shape for competitions? It’s an art of balancing school, sleep, and making sure to replace the mountain of calories burned with each mile by fueling her body with proper nutrition.
“I probably don’t eat as well as I should, but sleep is a big thing because you have to wake up early for practice and you can find yourself falling asleep in class if you don’t get enough. Also, strength training to avoid injury is huge.”
Off of the course, Weigel is a biology major hoping to attend graduate school after working in the bio industry for a couple of years. On top of balancing schoolwork and track, Weigel will be busy writing her experimental senior thesis in biology.
But first, she’s going to savor every last moment of her collegiate athletic career and put her best self out there. According to Weigel, there’s no holding back in a race. The only choice you have is to give everything you have.
“You did what you needed to to prepare by putting in a ton of miles over the summer and in the season,” she said. “I want to leave cross-country having the attitude that I put everything out there, and I think I did.”