In his own words: Steve Sisson talks junior talent, depth and personality
Sept. 12, 2012
This junior class has a team dynamic that is very close. Sara Sutherland and Marielle Hall room together on all the trips. Jessica Harper, Megan Siebert and Sara are all in sororities. They’re all super friendly, but they cannot stand the other ones when it comes to doing their workouts and their races. They want to beat each other very badly.
It’s a balance women have to find – being competitive while still being supportive, loving and having all the attributes that are considered positive feminine qualities. That’s always going to be a challenge for young ladies. This group seems to be able to handle that. They can still compete with each other and be friendly, and I think that’s because they’ve come through this process together.
Marielle was absolutely a rock star in high school. She did everything, from the 5,000 to the 800, had amazing range and was very well-coached. She says she wanted to be the Leo Manzano of Texas Women’s Track. She hasn’t quite met that standard for herself, but she is working on it. She’s a blue-chip caliber athlete. This year, we’re working on balancing her speed element and strength element. She’s a different type of athlete, and it’s time for her as a junior to keep touching that speed element so she can be successful. She’s a proven conference competitor, but one who really wants to take that next step to the upper echelon.
I thought Marielle would be very good in the middle distances, so it was important to recruit some people in the longer distance areas. Sara’s story is pretty interesting. She wasn’t planning to run anymore after high school. She was set to go to Texas A&M and be in a sorority. We talked a couple times over the phone, and I knew I needed to bring her in for a visit. Once she came on the visit, we definitely clicked, and I knew there was a lot there. With her intelligence, combined with her ferocious competitiveness, I thought it would be a shame if she didn’t run in college. Sara is someone who doesn’t like to be second.
Megan Siebert was a Longhorn since forever. Looking at her high school career, I always thought there was something great there. And Jess Harper went to Southlake Carroll, one of the most prestigious Texas high schools for distance running. That school is just stacked with talent, and Jess was a leader on that team.
The funny thing is that they’re all so, so different. You’ve got Sara who is so friendly with everybody. Everyone is her best friend, and sometimes that makes it hard for her to stay on track. But she’s figuring it out, and that’s part of growth for a young person, is figuring out how to find that balance. Megan is the hardest-working person I’ve ever met in my life. She works many hours a day to focus on her academics and carries a 3.8-something GPA. She’s incredibly disciplined, focused and tough. No is not an answer for her. She’ll always find a way. She wants to do it, and do it for the team. She’s all for Texas. Jess has battled some injuries that have been tough for her, last cross country season specifically. But she pushed through and battled until track season, where she can really shine. And she did.
I know this is not a cool word, but I would say it’s love that allows them to be competitive with one another in training but also very close friends. They see the beauty in each other, but they’re competitive enough to take their strengths and keep working to try and become better. They push each other, but have a real affinity for the differences in each other. That’s something that a coach can’t coach. Believe me, they’re competitive. They want to beat each other, but they don’t want to beat each other at the expense of the other. They’re learning how to lift each other up.