Senior cross country runner Dominique Scott has done it all.
She’s a two-time winner of the Southeastern Conference Runner of the Year award and a two-time NCAA All-American. She also has seven individual titles.
But this season, Scott is striving toward another goal.
“My biggest goal of the year is to be a team leader and to be a role model,” Scott said. “We have a really young group of girls this year. I just want to make sure I set a good example for them and give back to the team because when I was younger, there were a lot of good leaders on the team."
Coach Lance Harter has nothing but praise for his star runner.
“She’s tremendous,” Harter said. “She talks to the underclassmen, and she’s a great leader.”
Though the team has several freshman, Scott said she is looking to capitalize on the team’s fifth-place finish at the end of last season.
“My goal for the team is to be top 10 this year,” Scott said. “If this young team can go in, be confident, take the bull by the horns and embrace the opportunity, we can accomplish it.”
It doesn’t hurt that the team has the No. 1 runner in the country in Scott, who already won her first meet of the season Oct. 3 at the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival.
Scott was ranked second coming into the season, but after her first-place finish, she moved into the top spot.
“I’m at the level now that I enjoy the pressure,” Scott said. “Pressure either breaks people, or it makes them rise to the occasion. Hopefully I can rise to the occasion, but rankings are just numbers on a page. People are just guessing on them.”
The ranking was unexpected, but Scott said she wasn’t totally surprised by the honor. She finished track season last year by placing second in both the 10K and the 5K.
“Most people can’t do both,” Scott said. “It’s like a double suicide. You get one day of rest in between.”
If success is based on how much an athlete trains, then it’s no surprise that Scott is a dominant runner. On average, Scott runs 75 miles a week, but she reduces that to 60 miles a week prior to a race. Those numbers are without running on Sundays.
While running, Scott is unfazed by any distraction the world tries to throw at her, she said.
“I’m very focused,” Scott said. “People often say, ‘Did you hear me cheering?’ and I’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, I did,’ but I really didn’t because everything is blocked out. It’s like a tunnel.”
Harter knows that Scott has the tools and determination to win at nationals, which is one of her personal goals during her last year of eligibility.
“She has very high goals and very high expectations, so we try to help her notch it up another level so she can achieve them," Harter said.
After her eligibility expires, Scott has her eyes set on running professionally. The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo is a realistic goal for her, and it’s something she’s dreamed about since she was a little girl, she said.
“I feel so blessed that I'm able to live out my dream,” Scott said.