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    TIM PEELER: Tinsley Hopes to Erase Bitter Memories
     
     

    BY TIM PEELER

     

    RALEIGH Brittany Tinsley’s first thoughts about distance running were not kind.

     

    “When I was in sixth grade, my older sister started running in middle school,” Tinsley says. “I didn’t understand why anyone would want to go running. I thought it was stupid.”

     

    But as Tinsley, who stands barely five feet tall now as a college junior, got a little older, she realized her dream of being a basketball star was probably pretty remote. So she laced up her sneakers, and followed in her sister’s footsteps.

     

    “I ended up trying it, and now I love it,” says Tinsley, a junior on the NC State women’s track team from Russells Point, Ohio.

     

    With her training schedule, she must. Tinsley has upped her weekly mileage to approximately 70 as she trains to be a front-runner on the Wolfpack defending ACC-champion women’s cross country team, along with sophomore Bona Jones and senior Angelina Blackmon.

     

    They are all looking to replace the leadership and productively lost with the departure of graduated All-America Julia Lucas, who finished fifth in the NCAA Cross Country Championship last year.

     

    This weekend, Wolfpack head coach Laurie Henes takes her team to the NCAA Pre-National race in Terre Haute, Ind., where the Wolfpack finished first in a field of 37 teams in the White Race, behind the running of first-place Lucas, seventh-place Tinsley and 11th-place Jones.

     

    But Terre Haute was also the site of the biggest disappointment of Tinsley’s career, last November in the NCAA Championships. She fell ill with a stomach virus the day of the race and finished 226th, as the Wolfpack finished a disappointing 19th in the team competition.

     

    “I was really, really sick,” Tinsley said. “I couldn’t eat or drink anything. I couldn’t keep anything in my system. I couldn’t even fly back home with the team. I had to ride back with my parents, which was possibly the longest car ride ever. For the next week, I did nothing but lay on the couch.”

     

    Already slight in stature, Tinsley lost nearly 10 pounds, or 10 percent of her body weight.

     

    But what has stuck with her throughout the spring track seasons and through the summer was not the illness, but the disappointment of finishing near the end of the race. In the off-season, she increased her mileage from 60-to-65 miles a week to more than 70. As the 2007 season gets into full swing, she hopes to erase the bitter memories of how last season ended, beginning with the race this weekend.

     

    “My whole goal is to continue to run at a high level, to try to improve and get faster,” she says. “Hopefully, I will have a better season than I did last year.”

     

    Henes has high expectations for Tinsley, as well, both on the course and off. She has seen a marked improvement in Tinsley’s leadership abilities, after spending most of the last two years in Lucas’ shadow. Tinsley, Blackmon and Jones have all taken charge of the team.

     

    “Mentally, Brittany is a totally different athlete this year,” Henes says. “She is never going to be the kind of person who calls the whole team together and yells at the freshmen, but she is doing a great job of leading by example. She does everything you ask her to do, all of the time, exactly the say she is supposed to.”

     

    She’s even learned to take a day off here and there when Henes instructs her to, in an effort to remain healthy following some minor hip problems that limited her training during the indoor and outdoor track seasons.

     

    Brittany was very, very motivated over the summer,” Henes says. “She came and worked camps a couple of weeks. It is very clear that she is re-focused and ready to go right now.”

     

    You may contact Tim Peeler at tim_peeler@ncsu.edu.


     

     

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