Q&A: Catching up with Gillian Schriever


Barry Shenck

Gillian Schriever posted a personal best time in the 6k in Pitt’s final regular season meet last Friday. Courtesy of Barry Shenck/Pitt Athletics

By Steve Rotstein | Sports Editor

Sophomore Gillian Schriever has led the Pitt cross country team since she arrived on campus.

The Tuckerton, New Jersey, native is now entering the ACC Cross Country Championships coming off the best performance of her college career.

The Panthers wrapped up their regular season at the Penn State National Open last Friday, where Schriever placed seventh out of 224 runners and posted a personal-best time of 20:36 in the 6k.

Coming off her second top-10 finish of the season and the fourth of her career, Schriever and the Panthers now turn their attention to the ACC Championships in Cary, North Carolina, Friday, Oct. 28.

The Pitt News caught up with Schriever to discuss the difference between her first and second year with the team, winning her first individual race and her preparation for the postseason.

The Pitt News: You just wrapped up your second regular season at Pitt. How would you compare your second season so far to your first?

Gillian Schriever: As a freshman, I really didn’t know what to expect. Of course your teammates can describe to you what it’s like, but you really don’t know until you run at these big meets and feel the competitive energy in the air. So this season, I’m a lot more serious because I know how rewarding it can be to do well. So instead of just going in with the mentality of, ‘Oh, I’ll see what happens, and I’ll just have fun,’ I’m really hungry to do as well or better than I did last season.

TPN: What was it like picking up the first individual win of your college career in your first race of the 2016 season?

GS: It was pretty satisfying, though I wouldn’t say it’s one of the things I’m most proud of. I always like to gauge my success based off of past performances, not necessarily what others do. So, I think I’m more proud of doing better in races compared to how I’ve previously done than just getting a college win.

TPN: Were you surprised when you crossed the finish line first, or is that something you expected by that point in your career?

GS: I definitely didn’t feel surprised — I think I was too exhausted to feel much of that. I wouldn’t say I was expecting it, but I knew it was going to happen sometime, because before the championship season, we always have meets against schools that, as our coach says, we’re supposed to beat. They’re not Division I schools, and so we’re expecting to place pretty high up. So I knew it was going to happen eventually.

TPN: What would you say is the best moment of your college career so far?

GS: I’d say the best is probably the meet at Roy Griak last year. Although, from an outsider’s perspective, it might look pretty bad because we didn’t perform as well as we wanted to, in terms of effort, that was really, really tough for me, and I did PR [set a personal record]. So I’d say that was one of my proudest moments.

TPN: Do you consider yourself a team leader even though you’re only a sophomore?

GS: I think all of our upperclassmen, so sophomores and above, have a leadership role on the team. We really kind of diffuse that responsibility, with the exception of Ariel [Pastore-Sebring] being our de facto leader. We all try to help out when we can.

TPN: You cut your time in the 6k by almost two minutes from 22:25.9 at this year’s Roy Griak Invitational to 20:36 at the Penn State National Open. How were you able to do that?

GS: Well this is a great example of how you really can’t go by times in cross country, because every course is so different, you really can’t compare any of them. Roy Griak is on the golf course, yes, like Penn State. But it’s super hilly, whereas Penn State is relatively flat. So that explains how I cut the two minutes.

TPN: What is the key to carrying over your success into the ACC Championships next week? What have you been doing during this two-week break to prepare for the ACC Championships?

GS: Just continuing the regime of training, doing the little things, eating right, sleeping right. And honestly, just listening to my coach [Adam Bray]. He, from day one, has never led me astray. He’s always there to give me the right workouts, say the right things when I’m feeling nervous before a race. So I really credit this past success to his coaching.

This time in the season, instead of working on breaking down muscle to build it back up, we’re just looking at feeling good all the time. That’s what our coach says, we just want to feel good all the time. Now’s not the time to try anything new, or crush a workout to the point where you’re super sore the next day. You just want to put in a good effort but still know you have enough in there to go a little harder.

TPN: Does it give you added confidence going into this year’s NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals knowing it will be back at Penn State where you just set your personal record?

GS: Yeah, definitely. I love that course. It’s pretty flat, especially compared to what we’ve ran in the past. I feel really comfortable on that course, especially with the performance we had last week. So yeah, I’m excited for regionals.

TPN: What are your goals for this year’s ACC Championships and beyond?

GS: At the ACCs, I’d love to place top-10, if not top-five. I know that’s a little ambitious based off my past performance, but, as my coach taught me, you can’t just be satisfied with what you probably can do. You should really push yourself to do things that you originally don’t think are likely to happen. Otherwise you’ll definitely never get there. So that’s the goal for ACCs. For regionals, because our region actually is a little less competitive than our conference, I’d say also top-10, if not top-five.