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 The first year after of high school can be filled with new challenges, unexpected success, surprising disappointment, homesickness, bad dining hall food, new friends and late nights.  Knowing the adjustment isn't always easy, we've asked ESPN RISE intern Hilary May, herself a high school standout at Corona del Mar CA and a collegiate runner at Harvard, to contact some of last year's top prep track and field athletes and find out how things are going...one year out.

                                                                  Carly Seymour

"My freshman class was bound to be together because from the first day the group of us have been inseparable."

During a stellar high school career at Central Cambria High in Edensburg, Pennsylvania, Carly Seymour was a 6-time state champion and is the state record holder at 3200m. Carly decided to continue her distance running career at Duke in Durham, North Carolina. 

Dyestat catches up with Carly to find out how her freshman year as a Blue Devil went. 

How are you? Do you like Duke and the running program?

I am wonderful! I am still training right now for the USATF Junior National Meet in Oregon, but I am at home here in Pennsylvania doing that. I love Duke and the program that I am in. My teammates and coaches make being so far from home so much easier and there is nowhere I would rather be. The program was the best fit for me and what I need as an athlete and student, so that is also a big plus. 

  Carly Seymour wins the 2007 Girls Eastern States race
  at the Manhattan Invitational - Photo by John Nepolitan

What are your goals and have they changed after one year of college? Where do you see the Duke program taking you?

Well, my long-term goals have not changed at all, but there were several goal changes in my freshman year that I did not really want to occur but they did. My goals are to be an All-American in cross country, To go after a National Championship in cross country as a team, improve in my track running and become a big contributor to the long distance program at Duke. The Duke program is going to take me to places that I definitely could not see myself without it. Even in one year I have been educated so much about the proper ways to train and successfully be an athlete, and my coaches seem to have a great knowledge of how to get me to my full potential without overdoing it. 

How rigorous is college training versus high school training? What are the major differences and similarities?

Well, I was a pretty hard worker in high school, but when I got to college the biggest change was running with a group of girls that are equally as talented. Coming from a small high school with no one to train with, the other girls were a big threat at first, but soon I realized they are what make me so successful. Also the mileage changed a little bit; I was a very low mileage runner and they slowly kept increasing my mileage to distances I did not think I could ever run. The transition into this training was tough at some parts because its not just doing what the coaches tell you to run, but it's also about taking care of your body and mind that makes the transition easier and it took me a while to figure that out.

Academically, how hard did you find Duke? How hard is it to balance schoolwork with running? Do you study more than you expected to? What was your favorite class? What do you want to major in?

Duke is quite a challenge. The whole Duke community is at a different level academically than I have ever experienced, so just to be able to keep up with my studies was a very big deal for me. It is so hard to juggle schoolwork with running. Sometimes I would have classes all day until practice and then get done just in time to make it to the dining hall and get back to my room to study around 9, and by then I am exhausted. The biggest struggle was being able to study and not let myself fall asleep. I love to sleep and every time I would open a book, my eyes would slowly start to shut.  My favorite class was my psychology class, which is what I want to major in because I love learning about the mind and the way it works. Als,o I would love to listen to people's situations and help them through it.

Is there time to party at Duke? Are you even allowed to have a social life as a member of the track team? How do you balance your social life with academics and athletics? Do you go to football games and other Duke sporting events? What is your favorite on campus thing to do?

Oh, definitely! I think that as a student athlete you need to be able to keep balance in your life and being social and going out once in a while is something you need to do to stay sane. We never sacrifice our training or academics because of social activities, but we like to do something fun to get our minds off of the stresses at school and let loose. To balance all three can be tough, but it’s all about being smart and making good decisions about when you go out and what it is you do when you go out. I went to several football and basketball games. The sporting events are the best thing about Duke. I love sports and to have such talented sport teams and the huge fan support, it makes the event so much fun. My favorite thing to do is to go to the Duke Gardens with my friends and just lie out or read, it’s so peaceful and beautiful there. 

What is your typical Saturday night like?

Getting the other freshman girls together for a dinner, movie, and maybe go dancing. 

  Seymour at the 2006 Foot Locker Northeast Regional
  Photo by PhotoRun

What is your typical Monday night like?

Studying, catching the latest Gossip Girl with my dorm, and then more studying. 

If you could do it all over again, knowing what you know now, would you still choose Duke?

Yes, in a heartbeat! I have learned so much about myself this year and made the best of friends I could ever ask for. This year was a big change for me, but Duke is the best place to go through the transition that I did. 

What is your favorite food in the dining hall?

The southern style food like sweet potatoes, biscuits, and chicken. Yummm! 

What are Duke track athletes like? Are they different from other Duke students? Are they different from your high school teammates?

The Duke track athletes are just regular people that have a passion for running and work really hard to achieve success. A lot of the girls on my team are really laid back and fun, they do not get too serious or worked up over a bad workout and have a good perspective of the sport. They are different than my high school teammates in that they are at a completely different level and have experienced a lot of success and some big time racing. I definitely feel like I fit in on the team; I really do not know how you could not fit in with how sincere and kind the girls on the team are to even the new teammates. 

What is the team dynamic like?

The team is made up of a good portion of middle and long distance runners who benefit each other with their different strengths. As a team we are very close and supportive of each other. My freshman class was bound to be together because from the first day the group of us have been inseparable and such great friends, and we have all been a great support to get through our first year together. Also the seniors were such good mentors and role models to the younger girls about how to perform and be a great, happy student athlete. 

Did you live with your teammates or with non-track athletes this year? What did you think of your living situation? Are you rooming with them again next year?

I roomed with another freshman girl on the track team, Leslie Morrison. I could not have asked for a better roommate. She is so smart and has her life put together, which helped me keep mine together as well. The room was a tad bit small, but with Leslie being such an easy roommate and friend it was no problem. Leslie and I are rooming together next year again, right beside two other girls on the team. 

What is your relationship with your coach, Kevin Jermyn, like? What do you like about his coaching style?

Kevin is such a great coach because he is very laid back and wants his athletes to enjoy the running experience, but at the same time he pushes us hard and really aims high for his athletes. This is how my high school coach approached my running and training as well and it seems to fit me well.  I really like the fact that Kevin also has a lot of faith in me as an athlete and has high goals for myself, as I also do. I communicate very often with Kevin or Liz Wort, our assistant coach, they are very concerned with our health and how we are feeling, so an adjustment can be made in the schedules if something does not work out, but they also like to make sure our lives outside of running are okay which really shows that they are concerned about us as people and not just their athletes, which is a great thing to have.

How was the transition from 5k to 6k in cross-country this year?

It took a little bit of adjusting, but I did not mind the distance change that much. The first race was a little rough because with 1000m left in the race I was out of gas and it was then that I realized how the 6k was going to have to be run a little differently, but I like to switch things up and see how I can improve in this new race. 

  Seymour competes for Duke University in the 2009 XC season
  Photo submitted, original courtesy of TrackShark.com

You had a great cross country season this past fall, as the top finisher for Duke in 3 meets including the NCAA Southeast Regional. What was this experience like? Was running cross-country in the Southeast different than your high school experience in Pennsylvania?

I went into this cross country season with the mindset that I was just going to do all that I could and not put too many expectations on myself and use this year as a trial year so I know how to approach the rest of my college career. I learned a lot during this season about what to do and what not to do. Being the top finisher for Duke was very unexpected, but of course it felt great. I was extremely proud of myself, but I think being the top finisher my first year was pretty scary at first, because I was so young and inexperienced. I am really proud of what I did during cross country, but I know that there is so much more I could have done better and I cannot wait for this coming fall when I am not the scared little freshman. The biggest difference from running at Duke than in Pennsylvania was definitely the weather and the terrain. The weather was so much calmer and warmer at Duke. The terrain in North Carolina is much flatter than in Pennsylvania, where there are lots of hills, which happen to be my strong point, so I will have to find something else to replace that here in North Carolina. 

Duke, historically, is a strong distance team, producing 2008 Olympian Shannon Rowbury. What is it like to be a part of this program? Is the program ultra-competitive?

Being a part of the Duke program is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am part of a program that has such a great support group and coaches to develop me into a great athlete. The upperclassmen have been very helpful, letting the younger girls realize the potential that we have, and how hard we do have to work to be successful. Every day at practice they set an example by going above and beyond what is asked and stepping up to the front to push the pace. I would not say that the team is ultra-competitive, but I would say that the program is great at pushing each other to their peak and working together so everyone can benefit. 

On the track, you ran the 5k during the outdoor season. What was running this new track event like? Did you like it? Do you think you will move up to the 10k?

I loved the 5k outdoors. I feel it is very well-suited for me because I am not super fast, but I am strong and have a lot of endurance so I feel like that was a great fit for me. I would love to run the 10k to try it out and see how I would do in it, and I am pretty sure I will be running some next year.

What was the biggest shock about your freshman year?

I was the most shocked about how much I could squeeze in one day. 

What was the biggest disappointment?

Not having my family there, I love my family. 

What was the best part?

Being around a group of people with the same goals and passions and experiencing living on my own. 

What are you most looking forward to?

Going to Oregon; I have wanted to go there forever. 

What is your favorite college meet?

I really liked running at Princeton for the ECAC meet in track, it is beautiful there. 

What do you miss most about high school?

The easy classes. 

What are your summer plans?

I am training in Pennsylvania and taking some trips to visit friends and family around the country. 

What is your coolest non-sports related talent?

Baking and Crossword puzzling. 


High School:

PRs: Cross Country- 17:07, 3200m- 10:31, 1600- 4:57

Notable High School Achievements:  PIAA State Champion Cross Country 2005 and 2007, PIAA 3200m State Champion 2007 and 2008 and state record holder, PIAA Indoor 3000m State Champion 2007 and 2008 and state record holder, Footlocker 2nd Team All-American for 2 years (9th place).


Freshman PRs: Cross Country (6k)- 21:01, 5k- 17:02

Notable College Freshman achievements: All-ACC Academic Team, ACC Performer of the Week, All East Honors for 5k at ECAC's

Photos: headshot - goduke.com; top, John Nepolitan; middle, PhotoRun; bottom, TrackShark.com