When Ohio Wesleyan University freshman Cara DeAngelis took to the track June 24 at the USA Track & Field Outdoor Championships, the Barberton, Ohio, runner was dressed for success.
DeAngelis was one of only two Division III runners to compete in the 5000-meter run in the junior division of the national meet, held in Oregon. She finished sixth in a time of 17:20.66, earning a medal for her efforts.
“During the race, my mind was a jumble of thoughts,” DeAngelis says. “A teammate of mine, Kat Zimmerly, gave me her bib number from cross country nationals in which she was an All American. It fit perfectly under my USATF bib number, and I wore it during the race. When things started getting tough in the race, I remember thinking ‘Kat gave this to me and I can’t give up now! She believes in me!’
“The day before the race my dad bought me a necklace that Linda Prefontaine (Steve Prefontaine’s sister) designed,” DeAngelis continues. “It said ‘Love to Run’ on it, and I wore it for my race. It bounced up every now and then during the race, and I thought of my dad, Pre, and that I love running.
“It was definitely a battle between my mind and body. My body was screaming at me to slow down, and I had to keep mentally fighting during the race to keep strong,” DeAngelis says. “I’m glad I didn’t let my body win.”
Steve “Pre” Prefontaine was a middle- and long-distance runner who “owned every American running record from 2,000 meters to 10,000 meters and 2 miles to 6 miles” at the time of his death at age 24 in a car accident. Prefontaine was from the Eugene, Oregon, area, where DeAngelis’ USATF championship race was held.
“I was really excited to be able to run in the USA track nationals, especially because it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance since juniors is only for ages 14-19,” DeAngelis says. “I got to see past, and possibly future, Olympians. I was really happy with how I did because I wanted a medal and to get a new personal record, and I achieved both.
“This was an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
During Ohio Wesleyan’s outdoor season, DeAngelis competed in the NCAA Division III outdoor track & field championships, finishing 14th overall in the 1500-meter run. At the North Coast Athletic Conference championship meet, she won the 1500-meter run in 4:40.84 and finished third in the 5000-meter run.