For student athletes, senior year includes trying to break personal records and making a mark on the school.
Lindsey Rayborn, a geosciences senior, is one of these students. Rayborn is a member of the UTD Cross Country team and has broken several personal records this season, in both her 5K and 6K races.
She said her motivation is that this is her last season on the team.
“That’s in the back of my head,” she said. “This is the last time I’m going to run so I need to push harder and see how good I can get.”
Another big factor in Rayborn’s improvement this season is the team’s training. Rayborn said it has become more rigorous, and it’s thanks to their previous coach and their new one.
“We’ve had a lot (of) harder workouts this year and over the summer,” Rayborn said. “Our last coach that we had, he kind of built the base that we all had coming in to this season, and then the new coach just built upon that.”
These newer, more intense workouts have paid off for Rayborn. She set a personal record at the first race of the year with a 5K time of 19:03. The following week, she eclipsed that record again, running it in 18:52. She also broke her personal 6K record with a 22:47 race on Oct. 7, then broke it again at the ASC Championship where she took first place at 22:37.
Senior Samantha Tschirhart, one of Rayborn’s teammate, said she noticed Rayborn training harder than usual.
“When we have the option of running more mileage, she always runs the extra mileage,” Tschirhart said. “Where some people take the time to cut back and attend other things, she’s always out there literally running the extra mile.”
Tschirhart said watching Rayborn put in so much effort has influenced and motivated her.
“Since she is pushing so hard, that definitely made me personally want to push harder as well and try to see how far I could get,” Tschirhart said. “It’s definitely contagious.”
This year marks Rayborn’s 10th year being a runner. She started when she and a friend joined track and cross country in middle school.
“I always watched the Olympics and I’d see the sprinters and they looked so cool to me, and I wanted to do that,” Rayborn said. “I wanted to be fast, like a sprinter, but then I realized I’m very bad at sprinting, so I had to move to the longer distances. The shorter the distance, the worse I get.”
Rayborn said initially, she did not enjoy cross country at all, partially because she misunderstood exactly what it was.
“I wanted to quit every single day,” she said. “I didn’t even know that cross country was distance running, and then it ended up being distance running and I was like, ‘What have I signed up for?’”
Despite this, she stuck with it and eventually grew to love running. Rayborn said she enjoyed being able to meet people at meets and being able to travel for them as well.
She said a big part of why she enjoys running is because it helps her stay healthy and allows her to be lenient with her diet.
Rayborn said besides that, she enjoys having the mental determination to keep running even after being fatigued.
“It’s really fun to push yourself to the point where you don’t think that you can run another step, but you have a mile left of your race,” Rayborn said. “You’re pushing yourself to the point where you feel like you can’t continue, and then you keep going.”
Throughout her college career, Rayborn said the team has steadily improved each year. She said she hopes that after she graduates, the team will continue to get better.
“I want them to have a streak like UT Tyler had where they’re going to win conference year after year after year, and I want that for both the men’s team and the women’s team,” Rayborn said.
Tschirhart said she is not concerned about how the team will continue to progress after she and Rayborn graduate, partially because of Rayborn’s commitment to cross country.
“I think it’s really good for them because they see that level of devotion, especially with Lindsey, (and it) makes them want to run better too,” she said.
Rayborn said some of the younger members of the team are incredibly self-motivated, and they push her during their training.
“When we’re done with the workout, I’m like ‘I’m done,’ but then the other girls on the team, they’ll always be like ‘Let’s do more. Let’s do more abs, let’s do more pushups,’” Rayborn said. “They have all the motivation they need. They are so inspiring to me.”