Cross country: newcomer Pratt making a splash

The women’s cross country team has seen a fresh face arrive on the team this season in the form of freshman Olivia Pratt.

The Madison, Wis., native was victorious in the Bulldog’s season-opening race at Illinois, winning the four-kilometer race with a time of 14:18 to finish at the front of the 65-runner field.

Pratt has also earned the distinction of capturing the Atlantic 10 Cross Country Rookie of the Week award twice this season after her win at Illinois and her 13th-place finish at Toledo that helped Butler win the meet’s team title.

Pratt said it was satisfying to win those awards, but she is just as happy seeing her teammates be competitive and win awards as well.

“It was pretty gratifying to see that, but what I loved is that Katie (Clark) won the (A-10) Athlete of the Week,” Pratt said. “Really, having Rookie of the Week or Athlete of the Week, it’s just recognition for something that’s much more exciting, and that’s how we did at Toledo.”

Winning the first race of the season and her collegiate career with such a quick time was not something she expected to see.

“I’ve never raced that kind of time right off the bat, and it’s during the season,” Pratt said. “I was just feeling pretty confident coming into the race, and I knew (sophomore) Mara (Olson) had won it the year before, and I just wanted to go try and get it.”

Junior Kirsty Legg said it helps having a freshman be able to provide the rest of the team with consistency.

“It’s great that she’s able to just come in and be in our top five easily, and we can always count on her,” Legg said.

Coach Matt Roe said Pratt has proven to be a difference-maker on the team earlier than expected.

“We knew that she was a really good competitor in high school,” Roe said. “She was really consistent in racing at a high level, but she’s proved to be a better competitor than we really had imagined.

“That’s been a real shot in the arm for everyone on the team.”

College life has made it more convenient for Pratt to balance academics and athletics.

“One of the big differences is that running is built into my days here,” Pratt said. “I live on campus, I run on campus, I go to the training room on campus. It feels much more central to my life now just because it’s right here.”

Adjusting to college life while also being a student-athlete may be a challenge for some, but Roe said he has not seen that with Pratt.

“She’s a great student, and that’s one of the things we obviously liked about her,” Roe said. “We also liked that she was organized, so we felt that she would make a good transition on campus, and she certainly has.”

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