Victoria Slaten/Rambler Staff: Jessica Davis, senior criminal justice major, leads her teammates in a warm up before practice.

Victoria Slaten/Rambler Staff: Jessica Davis, senior criminal justice major, leads her teammates in a warm up before practice.

The only sound interrupting the silence of the early morning at Texas Wesleyan on any given day is the footsteps of Jessica Davis and her fellow teammates practicing before the sun rises.

Davis, senior criminal justice major, leads the pack as a star athlete in cross country and indoor and outdoor track, but she was not always a runner.  Davis said she was turned into a runner after her soccer coach in high school made her run cross country.

“They told me that in order for me to come back and try out [for soccer] I would have to go and help our cross country team in high school,” Davis said. “So it was like I was forced to run.”

Davis said she surprised the soccer coaches when she decided to not try out for soccer and run track instead. David said she found out she loved to run and that she was good at it.

“It’s a stress reliever,” Davis said. “If something’s wrong you can just go outside, hit the road.”

Davis said this year in cross country she was the individual champion for the conference, qualified for nationals and had the highest placement for nationals in Wesleyan history. Davis has also been named Red River Athletic Conference Athlete of the Week multiple times.

Davis said in indoor track she was the first person in Wesleyan history to qualify and advance to the finals in the 5k and the 3k. Davis said she was the first All-American for Wesleyan in the 5k and the 3k.

Davis said she sets goals before a race to place a certain spot, or to run a certain time.

“While I’m running that’s what I think about that I have to do it,” Davis said. “I have to meet that goal so that the next meet I can establish a new goal and possibly have a better time or a better place than the previous meet.”

Davis said her goal for outdoor track this season is to qualify for nationals and to be All-American in the 5k and the mile.

Davis said after she graduates she wants to continue to train and run competitively.

“I want to keep training for sure, but it’s wherever God leads me,” Davis said. “If he wants me to do something professional, I’d be more than happy to jump on-board.”

Marisol Lopez, freshman undecided major and cross country and track runner, said Davis is motivational to the team and does not settle for less than her best.

“I’m not trying to say she’s never happy with what she runs,” Lopez said. “But she always wants to do better no matter what. Even how she made All-American; she still wants to beat her best time and improve.”

Lopez said as one of the captains of the cross country and track teams, Davis motivates and gives advice to the team. Lopez said Davis is like the mom of the team.

“If there’s a problem in the team that she notices, she automatically a meeting to work it out,” Lopez said.

Lopez said she can tell how much Davis cares for the team by her actions and positive attitude. Lopez said her teammates look up to Davis and wish to achieve what Davis has in the future.

Natnael Amare, head coach for men’s and woman’s cross country and track, said Davis is a great student athlete and leader. Amare said Davis knows what it takes to succeed and understands why he pushes her.

“She’s willing to push herself,” Amare said. “She never complains even if she’s hurting. That’s the reason she’s an All-American.” 

Amare said Davis understands the three D’s the team lives by: dedication, determination and desire.

“Nowadays it’s hard to find student athletes that are really committed to the sport,” Amare said. “I think with her, she really understands the passion of it, what it takes to succeed, why she has to wake up at 5 in the morning and drive about an hour from home to come to practice and go to class every day.”

Amare said the woman’s teams have accomplished so much in the three years the running program has been in place, including being conference champions this season in cross country and qualifying for nationals.

“What they’ve accomplished is huge,” Amare said. “I was very pleased being such a great, young group of ladies, it’s a big accomplishment.”