One of Borgia’s top distance runners in recent years, Haley Russell is happy to have found her team for the next four seasons.
Russell will run cross country, indoor and outdoor track at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.
“It felt really good getting noticed by different schools and then being able to pick instead of being forced into going to a school,” Russell said.
UCM wasn’t the only school looking to secure Haley’s services.
“I was pretty interested in SIUE,” Russell said. “I really liked their program, but things didn’t work out as well as I would have liked. I was really interested in William Jewell for a while. That just didn’t work out. I think UCM is where I am supposed to be. I love their program and everything about the school. I’m happy I’m going there.”
The match between the Warrensburg school and Russell came about following a conversation last summer and some follow-up correspondence in the fall.
“I went and talked to their coach over the summer,” Haley said. “He was so nice. He told me if I was still interested after cross country season was over, I should email him. I emailed him after conference that I had got a conference medal and was doing really well. I put myself out there. He put offers on the table and we just worked together well.”
Russell knows she will run distance events, but is unsure exactly which ones.
“I’m really not sure which events I will run,” Russell said. “I’m sure the steeplechase might be in there. I don’t think I’ll be running a 10K.”
Haley’s father, Borgia athletic director, dean of students, cross country and track coach Kurt Russell holds the University of Nebraska track record in the steeplechase.
“I think the coach is hoping I can pull some magic and be like my dad,” Haley said.
Heading into high school, Haley felt it might be awkward going to school where her parents worked. Patty Russell has taught at Borgia for years.
“In eighth grade, I thought it was really strange knowing that I was going to have to come to school for four years with both of my parents,” Russell said. “It probably brought us closer together.”
Running with her father as the track and cross country coach has helped.
“I’ve always been close with my dad, but bonding together has created a better relationship for both of us,” Haley said. “We have a lot of fun together. It hasn’t been awkward. He’s a really good coach and anybody is lucky to have him. I guess I’m just extra lucky.”
Haley said she’s lucky she hasn’t had to cross paths with her father in his other role, dean of students.
“I have gotten detentions here, but none so drastic that I’ve had to go to his office and get yelled at,” Russell said. “It’s been pretty minor detentions like untucked shirt or socks not matching, so it hasn’t been anything too terrible.”
If running for her father has been a family experience, Haley has developed an extended family among the cross country and track teams.
“I definitely loved the team the best,” Haley said. “It takes a lot to make yourself want to go out and run fast. It’s not the ideal thing to do. The team definitely helps. Making it a coed sport makes it more enjoyable. You get different perspectives about different things. It just was a blast being with the team and knowing you weren’t the only one going out there and suffering.”
Borgia’s cross country teams have been as large as some school’s entire track programs during Haley’s years at Borgia.
“There just are a lot of people and we’re all fighting for the same goal,” Haley said. “We all just want to be in shape, we want to have fun and having a lot of people to do it with you probably was a highlight.”
Haley knows exactly what she would like to do in college.
“I want to be a nurse practitioner,” Russell said. “I’ll go into nursing basically. After that, I’ll get a doctorate degree.”
Haley can’t wait for her chance to run in college.
“It should be a lot of fun, I hope,” Haley said.