September 14, 2006

Ithaca Native Ellerbrock Shines for Cross Country

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For someone who didn’t start running cross country until high school, senior Robyn Ellerbrock is already proving to be an excellent captain of the women’s team.

Working towards a degree in biology in the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Ellerbrock has not traveled far for her college education. She is a native of Ithaca and attended Ithaca High School before coming to Cornell.

“Ithaca is a really beautiful place to run, which is part of why I decided to stay here,” Ellerbrock said.

In high school, Ellerbrock started out running and jumping in the intermediate hurdle and triple jump events. It was not until later on in her high school career that she decided to give distance running a try. Since joining the team at Cornell, she’s found that she has really grown to love the sport.

“My coach in high school asked me to run cross country,” Ellerbrock said, “I had no idea what it was but I have come to really enjoy the smaller team aspect.”

Throughout her college career she has participated on both the cross country and track teams. Though she admits that mastering both styles of running can be challenging, she is always aiming to improve.
“I think I’m most proud of improving every season, thanks in large part to the coaches,” she said. “One thing I love about the track program is that the coaches are excellent and always working to help you improve.”

In addition to running on the cross country team, Ellerbrock manages to balance school work and an on-campus job. Furthermore, she was named an Academic All-American for her performance in the outdoor post-season and for maintaining a grade point average above 3.2.

Ellerbrock’s hard work and modest attitude has certainly not gone unnoticed. Not only does her coach Lou Duesing consider her a valuable asset to the team, her teammates truly respect her. The cross country team elects their captain by a voting process that does not involve the coach at all.

“There are a number of teams where captains are appointed, but I’ve always been impressed with the cross country team. You worry it will be a popularity contest, but people take the responsibility of a vote very seriousl,” Duesing said.

Ellerbrock works closely with the other senior girls on the team who have bonded over the course of their four years running together. She points out that because the group is so close, the other seniors help with the responsibility of being captain.

Senior Erin Linehan has been Ellerbrock’s teammate and friend for the last four years and is also one of her housemates. She often looks to Ellerbrock for support and encouragement.

“It’s hard to incorporate a new group of freshmen girls because we just jump right into the season. The captain has to mesh the team together and get involved and she does a great job,” Linehan said. “She’s very open and easy to talk to.”

Ellerbrock’s goals for the team reflect her own personal goals. She hopes the team continues to improve as it prepares for the season to get under way starting in October. The team’s win against Army last Friday in West Point, N.Y., has definitely helped to boost everyone’s confidence. She has a lot of hope for the team because the returning girls have come back to school in good shape and the new freshman class is showing a lot of promise. With these positive aspects in mind, Ellerbrock would love to see the team perform better at Ivies and hopefully make it to nationals.

“It’s nice to know that our senior year could be our best year here,” she said.