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Student-athlete profile on Sarah Ohanesian '14

Sarah Ohanesian '14 is running for the Hamilton College women's cross country team for the third straight year. Sarah has earned a pair of New York State Collegiate Track Conference all-conference team honors and made the 2012 all-region team for her performance at last year's NCAA Division III Atlantic Regional championships. An excellent student, she will soon be a three-time member of the NESCAC fall all-academic team. Sarah, who also competes for the indoor and outdoor track & field teams, will help lead Hamilton into the 2013 Atlantic Regional championships at Letchworth State Park on Saturday, Nov. 16.

Q. Can you please tell us a little bit about where you grew up?
A. I grew up in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., which is about 100 miles east of Hamilton College. I also spent a lot of time in the Adirondacks as a kid, as I would spend every summer with my family in Lake Placid. I’d go hiking, camping and kayaking there all the time.

Q. How did you get interested in competing in cross country?
A. I actually started running cross country and track at Hamilton. When I came to campus as a January admit second semester of my freshman year, I had to complete my fitness test requirement. Coach (Ellen) Hull happened to be the person timing my run, and after I completed the test, she asked me if I would consider joining the indoor track and field team. I excitedly accepted her offer and ended up running both the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons that year. By the time track and field was over, I had fallen in love with the sport and the team and I couldn’t resist running cross country as well!

Q. Did you participate in any other sports competitively before college?
A. I played on my high school’s varsity field hockey and lacrosse teams. It was a little weird to give up those sports at Hamilton but I think I’ve always been a runner at heart. In high school, for example, I had to run timed miles with my teams all the time. When I was running 5-minute, 40-second miles without any real training, my high school coaches actually suggested that I look into the possibility of running in college if I decided not to pursue other sports.

Q. What factored into your decision to choose Hamilton College?
A. I felt like I belonged at Hamilton as soon as I visited. I liked Hamilton’s emphasis on writing, and it seemed like students here worked hard but also had fun in the process. I also liked knowing that I could compete in athletics if I chose to, and I remember being really drawn to the outing club’s presence at Hamilton. It’s hard to describe, but I generally just liked the down-to-earth, friendly vibes that I felt walking around campus.

Q. On Oct. 26 you raced for the last time on your home course and made the NYSCTC all-conference first team for the second year in a row. Were you pleased with how everything turned out?
A. I was so happy to make first team again this year. I had a hamstring injury for the first few weeks of the season, so I’m just glad that I was able to bounce back for the team and finish right about where I did last season. My teammates Adrian Walsh and Sam Buttrick also earned all-conference honors at states, so I was very proud of them, too!

Q. What is the transition from cross country to track and field season like for you?
A. I take a couple weeks off from running after cross country ends to give my body a break. By the time I come back from winter vacation, I feel re-energized and ready to train hard again for indoor. I don’t generally run as many miles for track as I do for cross country. I’ve typically run about 50 to 60 miles per week for cross country, whereas for track I focus more on strengthening and speed workouts rather than distance.

Q. Do you have a favorite Hamilton women's cross country story that can be shared?
A. I have so many stories from cross country it’s hard to choose a favorite! Experiences that come to mind involve competing at regionals, running 10 miles against Hurricane Irene and “Hill to Hull,” which is probably my favorite run of every year. We run the hilliest route imaginable from Hamilton’s field house to the Hull’s house where a huge, delicious lunch always awaits! My teammates are what have made my running experiences so memorable, though. Everyone is always just so fun-loving and supportive of each other. Going to practice has become my favorite part of the day.

Q. You earned all-region honors as a junior and will soon be a three-time member of the NESCAC fall all-academic team. What does it take to excel in and outside the classroom?
A. Time management is essential for balancing academics with athletics but to excel in both, it’s also important to maintain a positive “give-it-all-you-got” kind of attitude. I’ve learned to truly value what I do, so I just give everything my best effort.

Q. You didn't compete in track and field last season so that you could participate in Hamilton's Off-Campus Study program. What did you do and what was that experience like?
A. I spent last semester studying abroad in Madrid. My main motivation for going abroad was to improve my Spanish language skills, so the great thing about Hamilton’s program for me was that everyone had to pledge to not speak English for the entire semester. My time abroad was incredible. I lived with a loving host family and took some great classes (my favorites were art history and flamenco!), and I had the opportunity to travel all over Europe. Although I missed running track while I was abroad, I found it really enjoyable to run on my own. At the end of the semester, I actually ended up running a half-marathon in Madrid, which was an amazing experience!

Q. Do you have a favorite professor or a favorite class from your three-plus years here at Hamilton?
A. One of my favorite classes was The Self in Social Psychology with Professor Jen Borton. It was a challenging class but it helped me become a much better writer, and the discussions that we had were always so engaging.

Q. What are your plans after graduation?
A. Great question… no plans yet! Hopefully I’ll be employed, happy and training for my first marathon.

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