For these Penn freshmen, going fast is a way of life.
Whether it’s in adjusting to their new life as college students or out on the cross country course, runners Danielle Orie and Ryan Renken move quickly.
With the teams almost halfway through the season, Penn's top two rookies have had a significant hand in the success that both the men’s and women’s teams have achieved, helping to score points at the past three meets and contribute to the dominance of the program.
For freshman Danielle Orie, a top performer on the women’s team who has placed in the top ten of meets twice this year, mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation.
“I just want to make sure that I’m staying strong mentally and that I put in the effort that I have,” Orie said. "It's about my team, so I want to do what I can to help them out and get us to the best place possible.”
Renken, who placed sixth in his first-ever collegiate race, also discussed the importance of his teammates in competition.
“[In the future] I’d like to just from the start run with teammates,” Renken said. “I’ve gone a little fast and found myself alone…. [I’d like] to go out a little slower and run with teammates and be able to finish stronger.”
Renken spoke highly of his teammates, explaining how they’ve eased his transition to college.
“It's always difficult just coming from California. It’s hard getting adjusted to a new environment," the rookie said. "It’s awesome to have a team, because they're just the best source available... they’ve all done it before.”
Renken will be traveling with the team to the Wisconsin Invitational this week, in what should be a highly competitive and exciting race.
Looking to the future of the team, Renken expressed excitement and optimism.
“All the freshmen have been running really well, so I think we’re at the point where our team [is] good now, but [is] also gonna be good for years to come.”
As a student in the Nursing School, Orie has unique challenges due to scheduling conflicts with her classes. She highlighted teammate and fellow nursing student Nia Akins, among many others, as a source of support.
“Nia was super understanding of my situation. She’s my peer advisor," Orie said. "I am so grateful to have another girl who has gone through that.”
When it comes to racing, Orie’s philosophy is that heart is what matters most.
“Winning comes down to giving it your all, putting your heart into everything, and knowing you pushed yourself to your limit,” she said.
Orie may put her heart into everything, but it isn't always so easy. The rookie now has to race against her identical twin sister Gabrielle, who runs for Cornell.
The two raced against each other once already at the Paul Short Invitational at the end of September — where Danielle beat her twin by less than one second. When they meet again at Heps, the stakes will be much higher, but Danielle knows that it'll still be for the best that her sister is in the race alongside her.
“We race together and we push each other," Orie said. "I know we rep different uniforms, so when it comes down to it, definitely you're racing for your team and stuff, but it’s nice to know that even though you're supposed to have enemies, I’ve still got one friend in red and white.”
Both Renken and Orie have already had great success on their respective teams, but with some of the biggest meets of the year ahead of them, they are certainly far from finished in making their impact.
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