By Liza Sisk ’19
Abbey Wheeler ’20 is sprinting into a successful third year, leading the Providence College Track and Cross Country teams to glory. Wheeler, a native of Elmira, New York, was recruited by the Friars her senior year of high school and has been an asset to the team ever since.
Wheeler proved that she will reach new heights this season as she earned first place in the 5K at the Cross Country Coast-to-Coast Battle in Beantown hosted by Boston College on Sept. 21. This was the first time Wheeler won an event at an invitational at the collegiate level. Wheeler said, “[the win] gave me a lot of confidence and I think it was a great learning experience.” She credits the culture of Friar cross country, her teammates, and the coaching staff for her success in the race.
“I am fortunate enough to be at a place, in a program, and surrounded by the right coaching staff and teammates that can help me make improvements from season to season. It always feels good to be moving forward,” said Wheeler.
Last season, Wheeler came in sixth place in this race while battling an iron deficiency. Her health has since been restored as she took the top spot this year, finishing the 5K in 17 minutes and 10 seconds.
Although her season is off to a successful start, Wheeler reflects on the difficulty that comes with losing powerful runners and leadership to graduation each year. When asked about her goals for the team this year she explained, “The girls before us have created high expectations and standards for the program and we hope to continue in that tradition.”
On Sept. 28, the Friars competed in the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational in Madison, Wisconsin. The women’s team placed 20th overall, with Wheeler leading the pack for the Friars. She placed 37th overall in the 6k, improving significantly from her 67th place finish in the race last season.
The Friars will take a short break in competition, returning with a Mini Meet at Central Connecticut State University on Oct. 19. This is their last meet until the Big East championships and NCAA tournament season begins.
Wheeler believes the secret to Friar cross country success is consistency. “The success and history behind the cross country and track programs here was why I committed to PC to begin with,” said Wheeler. Led by Wheeler, Friar cross country will undoubtedly continue the historical success of the program.