What do most college students accomplish in a year and a half?
Maybe they have decided on a concentration or have made the
Dean’s list.

Janna Hutz
Sophomore Rebecca Walter races for Michigan. (ASHLEY HARPER/Daily)

But sophomore Rebecca Walter — a member of the
women’s indoor track team and cross country team — has
accomplished more in that time than even she could have imagined
after being all-state twice in high school.

Nobody predicted what she would accomplish in her first season
in both cross country and track.

Walter actually did not know whether she would compete at all
the first year or take a redshirt.

“I came into the first year wanting to compete and
thinking I could, but the success was a surprise,” Walter
said.

That success includes being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year
and All-Big Ten first team, as well as placing fifth in the Big Ten
Championships as a freshman in cross country. She was also All-Big
Ten second team in both indoor and outdoor track.

“I was good enough to make the team (cross country), but
being Freshman of the Year was the biggest surprise because it was
such a big jump,” Walter said.

Throughout high school, cross country and running in general was
just something to do for fun. Walter acknowledges that she did not
take it as serious as she does now. She did not have a winter
season, so during that time her training was a little relaxed,
unlike now.

“In high school, all the training was done on my own.
Here, it’s great competition just in practice with my
teammates,” the Beverly Hills native said.

The person credited with finding this diamond in the rough is
cross country head coach and associate coach of the track team,
Mike McGuire.

“McGuire has been very good at scouting athletes with
great potential,” track coach James Henry said. “He is
able to identify good athletes and then be able to coach them very
successfully.”

Walter credits McGuire for knowing that college running was such
a big jump for Walter. McGuire’s emphasis on individual
teaching really helped her.

“He caters coaching individually, but besides that he has
helped with the emotions of Division I athletics,” Walter
said.

After earning high accolades as a freshman, Walters topped them
all last fall by being named the Big Ten Athlete of the Year for
cross country.

To her, the success is a good foundation for further achievement
— individually and with the team. One goal is to have an
individual indoor Big Ten Championship this winter. This summer she
will try to qualify for the Olympic trials.

But her plans are on hold right now due to a knee injury that
stems from the end of the cross country season. She looks forward
to continuing her career as soon as possible and thinks that the
team can win another Big Ten championship.

Walter says she likes the pressure. It doesn’t overwhelm
her — it motivates her to achieve her goals.

“Most of all the past year and a half has been fun,”
Walter said.

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