Erica Testa is entering her fourth year in the Pittsburg State Cross Country/Track & Field program. As a veteran leader for the Gorillas, Erica has high expectations for herself and her team this year. Erica is also a member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll with a 3.87 overall GPA.
How long have you been running competitively?I've been running track since the second grade. That's when I started on a summer team in my hometown. I started running cross country when I got to high school.
At what age did you start running competitively?Since I was on the summer team in Junction City, my first competition was when I was 7.
What are some of your goals during your senior season?During my senior season I want to do whatever it takes to get another team Conference Championship and to qualify for Nationals. Individually, I would like to place All-Conference and All-Regional. A super high goal for me is All-American... But I like to focus on the team goals.
What are some challenges regarding practices/meets and school? How do you manage to overcome those challenges?The biggest challenge is just getting all of the homework and studying done. Luckily I love both running and Elementary Education so it is pretty easy to stay motivated. Getting my assignments done the same day they are assigned helps me stay on top of things.
What is the average day like for you during the week?An average day for me is waking up at 5:50 for morning practice, going home to shower and being at class by 7:45 (this semester I'm student teaching). Squeeze in lunch somewhere in there around 12:30. Go to afternoon practice at 3:30 and then go home to eat dinner and shower at 6:30 or whenever we get done doing abs, ice baths and stretching. After dinner it is time to do class work and get in bed at 10:00 at the latest! I always try to get my 8 hours of sleep to stay healthy. What are your future plans after competing at PSU?After this semester of school and running I am planning on moving somewhere far from here to spread my wings and just have a good time being young while I can. I'm hoping to get a teaching job in Washington because that's where my best friend is moving. We want to go see a different area of the U.S. together. Running wise I want to try to qualify and run in the Boston Marathon with my brother next year.
Cross Country/Track & Field is practically a year-round sport, has it been difficult doing your student teaching/practicum while in season? Since running in college is, in fact, a year round sport (we get less than 3 weeks off a year) it has definitely been a challenge balancing my hours of practicum with practice and meets. I love planning ahead and having as much time as possible, so I just try to get my hours early in the semester to be done with them before conference championships start.
Do you have any part time jobs as well?I had a part time job last year. I coached gymnastics at the YMCA each night for a few hours and on the weekends when I could. As much as I loved it, I have to admit I think it was a bit much to do coaching, school/practicums and running. I was always tired and stressed which didn't hurt my school, but it probably hurt my running a little bit. In the long run though, I learned a lot about time management and how to work with elementary aged kids in a place outside of the classroom. What are some of your strengths/weaknesses when it comes to meets?My biggest weaknesses when it comes to meets is getting too nervous the night before. When it comes to Conference and Regionals I get so nervous I just cry. It is not good! But I have learned to transfer my nerves to help me in the race and run for my team rather than worry too much about myself. Also, the mental part of running is super hard. To be at your maximum for 20 minutes or so is not only tough physically, but mentally as well.
My strength during races is surging in the middle when the other girls are slowing down. This is when I really start to gain ground and make my move before the final part of the race.
Do you have any particular pump-up songs while running?I don't have any particular pump up songs. I love country, so I usually just listen to it or Mumford and Sons before the race to try and relax me some.
Who has been your biggest inspiration? Why?Anyone that knows me knows that my brother is my biggest inspiration. He came to Pitt State and has been running his whole life; I have loved following in his footsteps. I think it is so cool when people are like, "Oh, are you related to Tim Testa?!” I feel so proud to say yes and I would definitely not be who I am or where I am without him as my mentor. What is your favorite part about being a Gorilla?My absolute favorite thing about being a Gorilla is the fact that my teammates are more like my family than anything else. I can count on them no matter what and the bond that I have made with each of them will last so much longer than when I graduate in December. Everyone says that college is where you find your closest friends and I totally agree. I don't know what I would do without them.
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