BILLINGS—Sydney Little Light is putting together quite the running resume.
The Rocky Mountain College senior picked up her third all-American honor when she finished second at the NAIA cross country national championships.
“I actually wasn’t too worried about the leader. I was more worried about catching second place to be second. When I got to the finish line I realized how close I was and I was like, ‘Oh no!’ I was a lot closer than I expected," Little Light told MTN Sports. "I got done and I was stunned and my family was waiting on the edges for me. I ran over to them and I was like I have way too much energy right now.”
The national championships took place in Washington in the middle of November, so one can only imagine the difficulties with the terrain and footing that Little Light and her competitors had to battle.
“It’s Washington, so it’s really wet there. It rained, so the course was so muddy. I think five or six girls fell, just slipped, and somebody in the boys race lost a shoe. The conditions were just insane," Little Light said.
One of those competitors was Montana Tech standout Becca Richtman, a steeplechase national champion, who finished just behind Little Light in fourth. While the two ran together for a large chunk of the race, it was Richtman that pushed Little Light down the stretch.
“When I realized that we were together during the race I was like, ‘OK. This is my person. This is the only person I need to be with,’ because I knew her. Which is a lot easier to race her than to race somebody I don’t know at all," Little Light said. "We were coming up the hill and I actually asked her after the race what she said to me. But she’s like, ‘Sydney, you’re not breathing. Go!’ I didn’t realize that’s what she actually said. I started going after the leaders and that’s how it ended up.”
The funny thing about Little Light’s runner-up finish is that she always envisioned herself as better in the shorter distances, as evidenced by her second-place finish in the 1,500 at the NAIA outdoor championships in May. She gives big thanks to her head coach Mike McLean for her improvement.
“He’s been very beneficial to my training. I think since I’ve gotten into college I’ve dropped three minutes. I definitely give most of the credit to him. The other part is my family and I," said Little Light.
Little Light is one of three Hardin graduates on the Rocky cross country roster, which doesn’t surprise anyone in the Class A running community, as head coach Cindy Farmer is one of the best at preparing her athletes for the next level.
“She just expects your best effort from everybody. My teammate Mae-Li (Stevens) that went there, we always talk about this. I actually ran with Marion (Hugs), too, who is on the team. We always talk about all the workouts Farmer would have us do. Every single time we’re like, ‘That one is rough,’ as we’re discussing them. I think she expects a lot from you, which is good, and she pushes you to be better," Little Light said.
Little Light will take aim at all-American honor No. 4 during the indoor track and field season.