For Bo Waggoner, cross country isn't just a sport. It's a lifestyle.
And for Waggoner, who recently became the first Duke runner since 2004 to qualify as an individual for the NCAA championships, life is good-and it could be even better after Monday at 12:48 p.m., when Waggoner, along with 40 other individual runners and 31 full teams, run in Terre Haute, Ind.
As a sophomore, Waggoner has become a leader for the team both on and off the track, as he commits not only his body, but also his mind. He is completely devoted to the sport-which, of course, is part of the reason he will be in Indiana Monday.
Norm Ogilvie, director of track and field as well as cross country head coach, sees Waggoner as a strong individual competitor who inspires the rest of the team to share the same die-hard mentality.
"Bo has worked really hard," Ogilvie said. "He's the leader in terms of being the guy that everyone wants to perform as well as. He is in the front of the practice, and he encourages other guys to train with him. He trains smart, and one of the most inspirational things that he does is that he has a champion lifestyle.
"He is a standard to bear in meets, and he gives the other guys hope that they can be as good as him. We have some great runners on the team, but he is one notch higher."
Ogilvie is not alone in contributing his top runner's success to a "champion lifestyle."
Waggoner himself understands the importance of not just showing up for practices and meets, but rather living the sport every day.
"The big stuff that really helps is staying injury-free and staying healthy as far as not getting sick," Waggoner said. "You also have to follow the training plan for an extended period of time if you want to get results. It's pretty hard to do this in college without having minor setbacks along the way, but I think that that's one of the things that has made me successful. It's important that I fully commit myself to the sport."
Considering the fact that Waggoner has two more seasons to run for Duke, Ogilvie is excited for what his NCAA championships appearance means for the future of the program as a whole, and for good reason. The Blue Devils barely missed the team qualification for the NCAA championships and will return all top seven runners next year.
But before next year, Waggoner still has a race to run. He feels no pressure but rather sees the meet as an opportunity to further grow and to help his team out in the future. Like a true champion, Waggoner knows that each race is just one part of a larger puzzle. Although the top 40 individual runners will gain All-American status after the race, Waggoner is focusing on the bigger picture.
He knows that even if it isn't on Monday, with hard work and determination, his day will eventually come.
"This is a great chance for me to represent our team and to gain experience that we can use next year as a group," Waggoner said. "It is definitely a race that I want to go out and do my best, but I want to use it as a learning experience, as well."
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