West Orange High rising junior Ava Baldauf is transitioning from soccer to the track and cross-country teams.
After years of playing soccer, Ava Baldauf — a rising junior at West Orange High — has set her sights on the running course as a member of the school’s cross-country and track teams. Although she just started running last year, Baldauf has continued to best her own record and has become a top runner on the girls team.
How and when did you first get into running?
I used to play competitive soccer for a really long time, but when I got into high school, we went on a road race 5K with with my brother, and that was when I first started running. After that, I just decided I wanted to do it in high school.
You just started running last year. What has the process been like for you early on?
It started off just for fun, but once I got a training plan (from) my coach, it got hard to get started — just running every single day. And I found other people like my friends — whenever I go out on runs with them, it’s just so much easier then when I’m by myself.
What has been the most challenging part about running? Your favorite part?
The most challenging thing is probably just getting up and doing it every single day. Some days, I wake up and I’m just so tired — I just want to keep sleeping — but I know I have to get up and run. My favorite part is whenever I actually go out and run, I feel stress-free — it’s really nice.
What are some tips about running you have learned that have helped you?
I’ve learned you need to really feel yourself to be able to run well. You have to always have good meals to give you the energy to actually go out and run, and sleep too. You have to put the right food into you.
Your older brother, Jake, is a member of the team, as well. What’s that like being on the same team as a sibling?
I actually love it, because I always know someone. He was there first, so I already knew everyone once I joined the team. It was nice; I liked it.
What are the best words of advice you’ve been given about running?
Probably just to push through it, because running is very painful sometimes during races, and to just keep going.
Do you have a preference between cross-country and track?
I think I like cross-country the best — I like longer distances. Though since I didn’t get to do much track, I can’t say for sure yet, but I’m pretty sure I like cross-country better.
The track season was cut short because of the coronavirus. What was like that for you to see it end?
It was kind of discouraging, because we would always meet all the time, and then everything stopped and we weren’t allowed to meet as a team anymore. We had to run on our own all the time, and then we ended up taking a break for two weeks off of running. Everything is better now.
What are your goals for next cross-country season?
Time-wise, I think I want to try and go under 19:15, because we did a time trial a few weeks ago — before we took a two-week break — and I got 19:45.
What are you doing in your spare time now?
I love cooking right now — I find so many recipes on Pinterest, and it’s just so much fun making a whole bunch of different meals.