After running for Notre Dame, cross country star stays on course as graduate student

Media Credit: Delaney Walsh | Photo Editor
Graduate student Angela Ryck is using her extra year of eligibility as a cross country to make an impact on GW’s program after four years at Notre Dame.

After four years on the track at Notre Dame, you’d think graduate student Angela Ryck would be tired of running.

But after getting off to a late start on the cross country team in South Bend, Ryck now has unfinished business left on the race course for GW. After a successful career for the Fighting Irish, Ryck still has NCAA eligibility running cross country, and she plans to soak it up.

“According to my parents, I could run before I could walk,” Ryck joked.

In just her third 6,000-meter race and second time competing for GW, Ryck finished with a time of 23:06.00 at the Catholic University Invitational earlier this month, enough to give her the first place award and propel GW to a second-place finish out of six teams.

So far, her skills have brought dividends that head coach Terry Weir did not forsee when he spoke to Ryck about competing at GW.

“I spoke to her briefly after speaking with her coach and she was really looking forward to running a full season in cross country,” Weir said.

Emerging as a middle-distance track runner on Notre Dame’s 30-woman track team, Ryck’s best finish during her senior year came at the 5K JV National Catholic Championships, where she finished second out of 104 runners with a time of 18:30.2. Her best time would come at her next race, the 5K Gold Race at the Notre Dame Invitational, with a time of 18:05, good enough for a 13th place finish out of 116 runners.

“I’ll always have that Irish spirit in me,” Ryck said. “But I’m excited to gain a new perspective here at GW and be part of a program where I can contribute and continue to improve.”

As a mid- and long-distance specialist, having Weir as a head coach appears to be a perfect fit for Ryck, who did not start competing in longer distance races until her junior year at Notre Dame. Despite only a few months of training together, Ryck has already bought into the strategies of her new coach.

“My background is more of a middle-distance track athlete,” she said, “So cross country is something that I’ve started to get the hang of more recently.”

Weir and Ryck’s strategy for the CUI worked perfectly – as reflected in her results. The plan was for Ryck to maintain her speed and stay toward the back of the group throughout the race. By the halfway point, she could then use her saved energy to catch up to the runners in the lead and hopefully pass them.

“It’s a good feeling,” Ryck said about seeing the checkered tape at the end of CUI. “As soon as you see the finish line, you know the pain will be gone soon.”

The dedication to training and wanting to race for a fifth year is a testament to Ryck’s passion that may have stemmed from her first love: music. She has played the violin for 19 years and joined GW’s orchestra upon arrival.

She also is also working on getting her masters in public health, which she cited as her main reason for coming to GW. Drawing from her experience as an athlete, Ryck’s concentration is physical activity, but she wants to expand her field of study to include prevention of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

With her next checkpoints in mind, Ryck will remain at GW long after she is done racing this season. But Weir envisions Ryck’s one year paying off big time for the program.

“Angela came from a top 10 track/cross country program at Notre Dame. It’s great for our younger or inexperienced runners to hear that some of the things they are going through, go on at these top programs too,” Weir said. “She is exactly the student-athlete I think we can attract to GW.”

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