By: Rhonda Craig
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Winning the 10K at the Drake Relays? Check.
An All-Big 12 honoree for a sixth place finish in the 10,000 meter run? Check.
A 10th place showing at the Big 12 Championships in the 5K? Check.
The team leader in clock time? Check.
Those facts support the argument that sophomore Kinsey Farren is Missouri’s dominant women’s cross country runner.
“My first year was so much fun,” Farren said. “I didn’t have any pressure I could just come in and run. I had high expectations for myself and now that I got all the cobwebs out I’m not afraid to race in the big races anymore.”
It’s that kind of confidence that has Farren’s coaches and colleagues taking notice.
“There’s a calmness in knowing you have a steady leader there. Even on her bad days, she’s good,” said assistant coach Rebecca Wilmes.
As the oldest of six children, leadership is not exactly a new concept to the 19 year-old. Farren is spearheading a team of four freshman, four sophomores, a junior and three seniors. Outside expectations may not be high for the young squad, but don’t tell that to Farren.
“It’s a lot of fun. We have a great future ahead of us, and the girls are really fast,” she said. “It’s kind of like a whole new environment, and we’re all really positive and focused on making it to nationals this year.”
There’s much more to Farren than training runs and races. Coach Wilmes calls Farren a “workhorse” both in class and at practice, but she confesses she may have spent too much time stressing over school and the sport as a freshman.
“This year I’m actually trying to go out and meet new people and actually enjoy college,” Farren laughs. “Freshman year I was too focused on running and over-stressed.”
When asked what she does to cope with the pressures of school and work, Farren said she finds relaxation in a good book.
“I just started relaxing and reading more,” she said. “Right now I’m on the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series, I’m kind of addicted to those books right now because my mom got me started on them.”
Aside from finding ways to occupy her free time, Farren has big plans in competition.
"I set my goals meet by meet. My long term goal is Nationals, short term is just improving each meet and staying positive in the race. I just strive to be the best in the things that I do,” she said.
Farren hopes to find more ways to stand out in a conference that is stacked with tough competitors. Wilmes is confident that Farren is more than ready.
“Great distance runners are made by how they live. It’s what they do when they’re not at practice,” said Wilmes. “She runs almost 80 miles a week, that’s a lot of running, a lot of time and she works really hard.”
Despite her youth and inclination to shun the limelight, Farren is aware that she'll be called upon to be a physical and emotional leader for her team.
“I try not to think of it that way, you know. I do what I do and if they look up to me then okay," she said. "I’m still running like them so we’re all out there for the same reason - to get better.”
Wilmes is happy if Farren's teammates consider her a role model.
“She’s intrinsically motivated, even when the coaches aren’t around,” said Wilmes, whose team is next in action Oct. 18 in the NCAA Pre-National Invitational in Terre Haute, Ind. “She’s dedicated to her teammates, a strong Christian and she’s passionate about the things that she chooses to have in her life.”