Within Striking Distance…
Transferring in from Arizona, distance runner Jennie Baragar-Petrash has already etched her name in Bison history.
So you were born in Winnipeg, originally attended school at the University of Arizona and now you are in Fargo. How did you end up as a member of the Bison?
I felt like I needed a change in the overall team dynamic as well as a coach that was willing to work with me. I just wanted to make a change that had more of a positive atmosphere and I wanted to really feel like I had the support that I needed. I think that’s very evident in why I choose NDSU because they are offering all of the things I looked for.
Sometimes transferring somewhere new can be a challenge initially. How did you go about integrating yourself within the team when you did arrive here?
I mean, we do see each other pretty much every single day on the distance squad. I just generally see a lot of different faces and different event groups at the track when I’m training. I feel like I’ve gotten very close with a lot of the women on the team and on the distance team quite quickly. I also feel like I’ve gotten to know people at different event groups here, not even just through competitions and watching them compete, but through practices as well. Since everybody’s so friendly here and very supportive of one another, it makes that part a little easier.
It’s only been a short time that you have been here, but where have you seen your biggest improvements?
I knew coming into NDSU, that I had two years of eligibility left because of COVID. I had kind of pictured that it was going to be a bit of a different system in terms of training and getting used to different training programs. Since I am a little older, I was ready to take on a little bit tougher training.
Andrew [Carlson] seemed like he was very confident in where my future
was headed in racing and that gave me confidence in myself as well. I had some longer-term goals that included making the NCAA Championships, but they were long-term goals. I was able to race really well right away and accomplish that goal sooner than I had anticipated.
And now that you have had time to reflect, how does it feel to accomplish that goal of winning a conference title?
I wasn’t too sure if I was gonna have eligibility and I was very fortunate that I was able to in the end. The week of the indoor conference championships, I found out that I was able to regain my indoor eligibility, both this year and next year because I had to get some extra paperwork completed.
I didn’t really know what to expect because I had been competing in a different conference. The Summit League is also quite different compared to the Pac 12. I was just so thrilled to be there that I think that adrenaline was what really got me through the races.
How have you approached setting goals now?
Qualifying for an indoor national championship was more of a longer-term goal, as I said, but my goals are always big. I feel like I’m my biggest competitor because I always have goals just to be my personal best in every race that I go into, whether that be in a big field of competitive athletes or alone. I think I really surprised myself with my personal bests that I ran at conference in the mile and in the 3k on my own. That gave me confidence going forward and I think that I really proved to myself that I could do it.
Now that you are searching for more long-term goals, what are some of those things you’d like to accomplish this season and beyond?
I would love to continue running personal bests. I think for a longer-term goal this season, I think that I would like to try my best to qualify for outdoor nationals in the 5000 meters. I’m a little bit far off right now, but post-NCAA I think the Olympics would be my longest- term track goal. I don’t believe it is impossible to accomplish that.
Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba
2020 Summit League Indoor Track MVP