Senior runner Sarah Pizzo is always looking for ways to inspire
her team. Whether by running her fastest or making her teammates
laugh, she has been a huge asset to the Michigan women’s
cross country team for four years.

Pizzo began her collegiate career slowly; she was plagued by
injuries that kept her from competing at an optimum level, but that
didn’t stop her from contributing to the team. Because she
realizes that running should be fun, she’s the one who keeps
things interesting.

“If there’s a practical joke going on, she’s
usually directly in it or had a lot to do with it,” coach
Mike McGuire said

Dealing with her injuries helped Pizzo learn to appreciate the
time she spends racing, so when her opportunity came to really
train and improve, she took it.

“She had a good summer of preparation last summer and just
a consistent, steady buildup all fall last year,” McGuire
said. “Sarah just had a breakout season last year in cross
country and probably was our most improved athlete on the
team.”

Pizzo made remarkable improvement last fall. McGuire was
planning on redshirting her up until the middle of the season, but
she went on to race in the pre-national meet and three championship
meets. She reduced from 21:15.5 minutes in the pre-nationals on
Oct. 8 to 20:54.3 in the NCAA championships on Nov. 24. She was
named All-Big Ten first team and just missed being named an
All-American.

“In her senior year, she’s got some lofty goals
centered on obtaining a higher finish in the Big Ten and a higher
first-team All-Big Ten finish,” McGuire said. “And she
was on the cusp of being an All-American last year, so that’s
a reasonable goal for her.

“She’s someone that has a fierce
determination,” he said. “She’s confident and
competitive, and, when everything’s in harmony — the
way it was last year — she’s pretty darn tough. She
just gets that extra spark in her eye during cross country.
It’s just something she loves to do.”

Pizzo says there’s something more important behind her
desire to win: Her teammates.

“Really, I race so that the team can be successful,”
Pizzo said. “And I think if one person can do well, it
inspires everyone else.”

McGuire looks forward to the season ahead to see what Pizzo can
achieve in the future, but he will be sad to see her go.

“We’ve been happy to have her on the team,”
McGuire said. “She really has a passion for cross country.
There are still bigger and better things for her ahead.”

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