Three years ago, then-freshman Anna Pavone was afraid her first cross country season with Temple would also be her last.
“I was terrified they would cut me,” Pavone said. “I hadn’t even run yet and I was coming in injured and I was scared that way. The team kind of got together on their own that season and I was left out of it. Coming in after the injury, it took a while to warm up to them, but once we did we always did team stuff together. We did everything together.”
Pavone suffered from a stress fracture in her foot that kept her away from running and other team affairs in her freshman cross country season. To make matters worse, Pavone then suffered a stress fracture to the femoral neck that greatly limited her outdoor season that year. She said she’s suffered four documented stress fractures during the course of her running career.
Of all of them, none came at a worse time than the foot injury, which happened right as she was embarking on the sizable transition of taking the leap from high school to college as a student athlete.
Pavone struggled from another stress fracture, this time in her back pelvis, during her sophomore year that lasted through the early stages of her third year last season.
Since then, aside from a muscle strain last month, the senior has remained healthy and established herself as a top finisher on distance coach James Snyder’s women’s squad.
“[Pavone] wanted to run injury-free,” Snyder said. “That was the big thing she mentioned when I met with her one-on-one at the beginning of the season. She said she wanted to have one year of college where she wasn’t injured. We’re really monitoring what we do with her. The big thing she was looking for in her senior year is she didn’t want to get hurt again, and she’s doing really well. If we can get her to days, weeks, months and hopefully a year of constant training with no injuries, she’s going to be a special athlete.”
“I think the big thing with [Pavone] was determining what we needed to do to keep her healthy so that she could run fast,” Snyder added. “She’s very talented, but she’s had injuries in the past. With her, this is her last hurrah and we wanted to get her through a whole year injury-free. Her perseverance is certainly admirable. A lot of athletes would’ve given it up a long time ago, but [she] keeps chipping away because she just wants to run fast.”
Pavone maintained her injury-free status through most of last year, consistently crossing as one of Temple’s top finishers throughout cross country, as well as contributing greatly to track & field a year ago. Most notably, she was a part of Temple’s 4×800-meter relay team during the indoor season that broke the school record twice in consecutive weeks.
Now as the lone senior on the team, Pavone is widely looked upon as one of the key leaders on a relatively young team.
“There are other people on the team who you could say is a leader too,” Pavone said. “I don’t like singling myself out as the only leader on the team. I like being the older one and leading the team and being one of the top girls on the team, but everyone chimes in and especially this year, everyone is a team player and I definitely don’t want to single myself out as a team leader.”
Owls sophomore Janie Augustyn started running with Pavone as a freshman at Henderson High School in West Chester, Pa.
“[Pavone’s] the leader,” Augustyn said. “She’s just someone you can talk to. She’s a great runner and is just hilarious and always someone with great energy.”
With a year left of running competitively donning the Temple uniform, Pavone said she’s going to cherish the experience while it lasts for the remainder of her senior season.
“This is definitely one of my top experiences,” Pavone said. “I love this team, I love this campus and I love this city. I wouldn’t change my decision coming here, I just love it here. I’m definitely going to miss the team and running competitively in general. I’m also going to miss the whole college life. It’s weird that I’m graduating this year, so I’m just trying to soak it in right now.”
“I don’t know what it’s going be like here without her,” Augustyn said. “When she left for college when I was still in high school, it was weird. It was weird losing the person who basically taught you everything. Next year, not only is she leaving the team, but we’re getting older. She’s 22. She’s going to get a job and be an adult and have her adult things to do, and I’m going to miss her so much. I’m hoping she sticks around for a little, but we’re all going miss her, bottom line.”
Andrew Parent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @daParent93.