Villanova has a strong Aussie connection, with alumni such as Patrick Tiernan, Jordy Williamsz, Sam McEntee and others recently making waves in the NCAA and beyond. Joining this growing list of standout Aussie middle distance runners gracing the Villanova program is Australia’s, Lauren Ryan. Runner’s Tribe caught up with Lauren to find out how her college journey was going so far.

What’s it like competing for Villanova and why did you choose to go through the US college system?

The legacy behind the Villanova program goes back many years, and it’s amazing to be apart of such a thriving program at the moment. In one of the track buildings on campus, before you walk onto the track throughout the hallway, the school has put up all the Penn Relay wheels that they have won over the years on the program. It is a constant reminder of the legacy behind the program, and that I am now apart of it and this success that the team has will continue to inspire incoming classes of athletes in the forthcoming years.

Competing for Villanova is a very special, once you put the singlet on you know that you are not only competing for yourself but you are always competing for your team and the Villanova name. The reason behind choosing to be the Villanova program, was the history behind the program, strong coaching and the success that they have had with past Australian athletes. Upon my visit to the University in January 2017, I fell in love with the campus and I loved the team environment. Another factor, which Villanova heavily ticked off was that it was a University that offered a strong business program, and therefore Villanova was a place that I could continue in the direction I wanted in both athletics and academics.

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You’re currently a freshman, how are you finding it all so far in regards to the studies, athletics and life in general? Have you fully adjusted?

Personally, coming to Villanova was the best decision I have made. Everyone back home constantly asks me how is it going over there etc, and all I have to say is that it is everything I imagined and more.

The studies were a little shock at first, as I graduated in November of 2016, and therefore starting to get back studying in August of 2017 again was strange at first but now that I have adjusted to the lifestyle over here, I’m back into the full routine.

The Business School at Villanova was ranked 1st for undergraduate programs in 2016 by Bloomberg Business ranking and therefore going to a such a prestigious business school, it can be highly demanding in the sense of workload, although it offers some amazing opportunities and prepares you for the real world. We are a part of a Backpack to Briefcase program, that allows students to be prepared for being apart of a professional business workplace.

The athletics is amazing, we meet as a team Monday to Friday from 1:30pm until 4:30pm, and Sunday morning for training, it is amazing to be able to see your coach as often as we do and to have people to train with every day. Life in general, isn’t too different to home, at the moment I have classes Monday to Friday from 8:30am, and I’m usually finished at either 11:15am or 1:20pm depending on the day, then practice follows in the afternoon.

The lifestyle over here is very busy, so you never feel like you have nothing to do, as there are always activities on campus, the King Of Prussia shopping mall close by, many café’s and restaurants located just down the road, and the train which takes you straight into the City of Philadelphia.

You finished top 10 individually last week in the BIG EAST title and your team took the overall win. How awesome was this and sharing the moment with the team?

Big East, was an experience I will never forget. We left Villanova, on Thursday where we flew to Wisconsin and I was greeted with a temperate of 4 degrees Celsius, which I’m not used too at all, it was a complete shock to the system. The day before the race, we ran the course and it was a similar temperature, everyone was dressed in many layers of clothes, plus gloves and a beenie as it was very windy so it made it feel much colder again.

Wildcat Freshman,✌🏽💙🏃🏽#BigEastChamps

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There were a few of us that were apprehensive about racing in such cold temperatures in just a singlet and racing briefs, after much discussion a few of us decided to race in arm sleeves and gloves which was such a good decision as it made all the difference.

Despite the weather, Big East was much more than I expected, competing for a team where everyone had the same goal of going for the team win which the Villanova Women hadn’t won in 6 years and for us to pull it off on the day was unforgettable for us all and our coach Gina. When I crossed the finish line and realised that I came 6th at the Big East Championships, I was shocked as at the start of the race I wasn’t in the best position, I think I was in about 18th. When the gun went off, all I felt was cold and I just had to forget about it and run my best for the team, and that is what stayed in my head and it pulled me to the finish line. When we found out that we won, everyone was ecstatic as it was so close between us and Providence.

What’s one of the tougher workouts you’ve completed in college so far that sticks out?

One of the tougher workouts I have completed in college thus far was a workout which coach Gina called a “Barn Burner” out at Valley Green which is a long dirt trail, similar to the Botanical Gardens back in Australia. It was 1600m at a hard effort, then 3mins jog, followed by a 3mile tempo, then another 1600m, as hard as we could.

What’s a typical weekday currently look like for you at Villanova so far?

A typical weekday at Villanova, would be get up at 7:30am be at breakfast by 8am, then class starts at 8:30am. From there my classes are most commonly back to back up until practice which starts at 1:30pm. Then pratice would go from 1:30pm until 4:30pm, in this time we would travel somewhere to run, which is usually around 20mins away, do our run or workout then head back to the locker room, stretch, core, circuit training and strength work followed by an ice bath on workout days. Then dinner usually around 6pm, then I would usually study from around 6:30pm until 9:30/10pm.

Have you chosen a major yet?

No, I haven’t yet. I am currently an undeclared Business major, however, I am looking to either major in International Business or Marketing/Management.

Most interesting class you’ve taken so far?

Most interesting class so far would have to be Business Dynamics.

Favourite restaurant you’ve been to in the states?

Hmmmmm, a favourite that we go to a lot would be Snap Pizza. It is also attached to Hopes Cookies next door, so you practically get two good things at once.

Last TV show you binge-watched?

Honestly, we don’t have a whole lot of time to watch TV but, most recently I would say I have been watching a fair amount of Suits. Definitely a favourite of mine!!

Most played song currently?

Big fan of Khalid at the moment, especially his new Album “American Teen”, seems kinda fitting too!! Hard to pick a favourite, if not Khalid my favourite song would be Turn my heart to stone ~ MØ

Advice to other Aussie athletes who are thinking of going to the US for college?

I would definitely say if you have the opportunity to go to college in the US, take it. Take the opportunity as it comes at you, you can always try and then you know the answer whether it is the right decision or not for you as an individual. I definitely think it is an amazing opportunity if you find the right University and looking at Australia’s current best female distance runners, many went to college. Genevieve Lacaze (University of Florida), Linden Hall (University of Florida State), Zoe Buckman (Oregon University) and Heidi See (Iona University) just to name a few. Definitely, take the chance and see where it takes you.

That’s excellent advice, thank you and good luck at Nationals!

Thankyou

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