For some student athletes, being a true freshman on the team for some sports means sitting out, possibly so the team can redshirt them and keep them for a full four-year career. But that was never the case for University of Utah cross country member Scarlet Dale.
Dale, who hails from Lancashire, England, is a member of both the cross country and track and field teams at the U. During her first season as a true freshman, she ran in a total of five races during the season with her highest finish coming at the College of Southern Idaho Invitational, where she finished in second place overall.
According to Dale, the transition from running in England to running here in Utah was not that difficult because she was used to running in a mountainous environment back home.
“I didn’t really notice the difference,” she said. “It was a pretty easy transition, in terms of the altitude.”
Dale did face some hard transitions when she came to Utah though. When she raced back in England, she mainly raced as an individual and not in a team setting. Another thing she had to adapt quickly to was racing more than twice in a season.
“Back home I’ve never done so many races, I had only raced like once or twice a season so it was definitely a big change racing much more often,” she said. “It was difficult racing that much as well as racing as part of a team because I had never raced as part of a team before coming to Utah. I had always run as an individual. That was definitely a big adjustment to make.”
According to head coach Kyle Kepler, Dale established herself as one of the team’s top two runners at the beginning of the season, and once they paired her with junior Sarah Feeny, the two learned to grow together. While Dale was trying to get acclimated to the new setup of running, Feeny was coming back from a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Dale is not the only girl on the cross country team that comes from England. Including her, there are two other girls on the team from England as well. When it came time for Dale to choose where she wanted to further her education, she did not have to look very far or hard.
“I was looking to come out here and Utah was the perfect fit for me because of the mountains. I come from a mountain-running background so I felt at home here. I also really liked the coaches and I trusted what they could do and believed what I could be,” Dale said.
Kepler says that even though most people only hear about both cross country and track and field every four years with the summer Olympics, he and his team are constantly scouring the globe for the next members of the programs here at Utah.
“We are going to try and find them all over the world and utilize the great strengths of this university, in terms of kids want to come here from all over the world. It’s a world-class, world-known university with a ton of great academic programs and then obviously a beautiful landscape. We are altitude. We scour the world the best student-athletes we can find,” he said.
Kepler believes the experiences that Dale gets from being placed in an environment that is vastly different than England is one of the ways she is bound to grow during her time here at Utah.
While the team’s overall ending to the season was not what they were hoping for, Dale is looking ahead to running in the upcoming track and field season, as well as next year’s cross country season as well.
“I’ve not really done that much track before, but I’d like to run a qualifying time to get to different rounds of the NCAA competition and I would like to get a qualifying time in the 5000. Then going into next year’s cross country season I would want to help our team get to nationals,” she said.
While there have been some hard transitions for Dale to make this year, one thing that came easy was becoming part of a team. According to Dale, her teammates made her first year a lot easier.
“In terms of the team, that’s been the best thing because I haven’t had that before and it’s definitely been a big adjustment to get used to the new training but it has made it some much easier because the team is like a big family and that’s been the best,” she said.