Starting at the age of 6, Eliza Weisse tied up her sneakers and trailed behind her older sister Emma when she went on runs.
The siblings bonded over running races on Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings, which led to Weisse’s passion for competition.
During her junior year of high school, Weisse began running cross country, indoor track, and spring track.
Her high school track career consisted of setting personal records of 5 minutes, 55 seconds for the mile and 12:40 for the 2-mile.
Weisse was unaware she would find her niche with the 10-kilometer in college.
At 17, she filled out a RECRUIT ME profile and connected with FSU cross country and track Head Coach Scott VanderMolen.
Weisse said when he first introduced her to the team, she felt like FSU was “where she was supposed to be.”
She added VanderMolen and Coach Mark Johnson are kind people who motivate the team.
Captain Ashley Bosch played a role in shaping Weisse into a nationally recognized Division III runner because of her positive attitude, despite her recurring injuries.
“She’s [Bosch] the unlucky girl who’s always injured. But she’s never in a bad mood or upset about that. I look up to Ashley because I see the way she is with our team – she makes me want to be better,” Weisse said.
She said her favorite aspect of the track and cross country teams are the people.
“We’re a close team. We are all so helpful, nice, and genuine with each other. If you come to our practices, we are always cheering each other on,” Weisse said.
Currently, the spring team meets a few days a week to do track workouts, tempo runs, and long runs – with the occasional Saturday meet.
In addition to team practices, Weisse sets aside extra time to lift on her own three days a week.
As she balances school with working as a nanny and at a restaurant along with athletics, Weisse said she “loves running” as it is therapeutic for her mental health.
“My mind is clear at the end of the day when I know I went running. I use the mental toughness I got from running to get through,” she said.
For this season, Weisse’s goal was to test out the 10K.
The morning of her first 10K she followed her usual pre-meet routine of scarfing down oatmeal and coffee – not thinking this race would be her most successful yet.
She ran a 43:05 10K and placed 40th in the nation for 10K Division III runners.
“Placing nationally fuels me to want to keep going and working hard every day!” Weisse said.
After her nationally acclaimed race, Weisse injured her left foot. Now she wears a boot for support.
She is unsure if her season will be cut short.
Like co-captain Bosch, Weisse remains in high spirits as she still plans on placing in the 10K for the MASCAC meet.
She said she is eager to compete this spring despite being injured as COVID-19 took away competition time from her.
“I’m not going to lie, being unable to compete because of COVID-19 sucked,” Weisse said.
She explained after she graduates from FSU, she will still run on her own because running isn’t a “chore” for her – she has her sight set on running marathons.
Weisse offered advice for athletes who yearn to excel at their sport.
“Stay consistent. Keep working at it. If you want something, go get it yourself. If you keep putting in the work and practicing, you will get better at it. It’s been proven,” she said.
Weisse said her sister Emma was thrilled when she called her to share the news she had placed nationally.
Like during their childhood, the pair still runs together when they are both home.
“I look up to my big sister,” Weisse said.