Her eyes light up when talking about the University of Utah cross country season and her teammates, and although sophomore Amanda Gehrich has already set personal best times and has cracked into the Utah record books, she is only looking ahead to what else she can accomplish personally and as a team.
Hailing from Trabuco Canyon, California, Gehrich attended Tesoro High School where she decided to focus on cross country and track with the hope that one day she would be able to pursue running on the collegiate level.
After earning awards like running the nation’s fastest 1,600 high school time of the year (4:41.39) at the CIF Southern Section Masters and becoming a two-time CIF California state champion in the 1,600, she had a choice to make. After narrowing schools down to those in the Pac-12 conference of where she wanted to attend, Gehrich went on a visit to Utah, and she knew that is where she wanted to be.
“I fell in love with Utah on my recruitment trip,” Gehrich said. “I fell in love with the girls and the whole team vibe, and that’s what sold me on coming here.”
Utah head coach Kyle Kepler remains thrilled that Gehrich made the decision she did because he knew what she would bring to the program.
“She has a lot of experience running at a high level,” Kepler said. “And that’s one of the reasons we recruited her so hard.”
In her first year as a Ute, Gehrich was a member of the cross country team that made it to the NCAA championships where she helped Utah secure a No. 20 place finish — the highest finish in program history. Gehrich has also racked up more awards, this time at the collegiate level. With a time of 4:47.45, Gehrich holds the time for the third fastest indoor mile and sixth fastest outdoor 1,500 with a time of 4:22.78.
From high school to Utah, the way Gehrich attacks each day and race has hardly changed. She goes to practice to work as hard as she can every day, while striving to be a reliable and supportive teammate. When it comes to the day of a race, her experience comes in handy. With the ability to relax and focus on the steps to success, she is able to not let the outside environment or pressures get to her.
“I just focus on what I need to get done on that race and strategy,” Gehrich said. “And that usually calms my nerves down just thinking, okay this is what I need to do, and if I do this, I’ll be okay.”
With the cross country season now in full swing, Gehrich said she feels that this is the strongest team yet, and she believes the team will excel this season. Kepler said that now that the team has seen multiple seasons of success, that this season they have “the highest expectations ever in the program.” What Kepler wants to see from his team this season doesn’t alarm Gehrich. She said she feels more at ease this season with a year now under her belt.
During her freshman year, she felt the growing pains that come along with transitioning schools, and the faster pace and heavy load that was mixed in with being a student-athlete. But it is that experience that Kepler said helps freshmen develop as athletes.
“You have to through this transformation and look like a college athlete,” Kepler said. “She has definitely done that. She definitely looks the part, she’s been doing all the work in the weight room and is getting her miles in.”