Cross Country

Running the Trail With...Rebecca Chain

Sept. 20, 2006

Each week will feature a different runner on the cross country team as they continue through the 2006 season. This week's featured harrier is junior Rebecca Chain, an exercise science major and Cooper Scholar from Ridgefield, Conn. Coach Stan Rosenthal expects Chain, one of three team captains, to be one of the top three runners as the Gamecocks progress throughout the season.


Rebecca Chain came to the University of South Carolina from Ridgefield, Connecticut, and immediately made an impact to the cross country program, consistently placing as one of the top three runners in each event despite a recurring hip problem that caused her to miss the first race of the 2004 season. However, in her short time out of action she was able to watch Carolina All-SEC performer Jenny Lake lead the team in more ways that one, posting a first team All-Conference recognition along with an Academic All-American nod.


"I learned a lot from Jenny," Chain said. "Freshman year she was the person I looked up to athletically and academically. Her accomplishments motivated me to try hard and do my best at everything that I do."


Chain has not taken her views for granted, placing third on the team in her first collegiate meet in 2004 at Clemson and then setting a personal record (19:03) in the Winthrop Invitational the following week. After setting a new 5K PR at 18:02 during the 2005 track season, cross country coach Stan Rosenthal named Chain a co-captain for the 2005 cross country season, an indication that he believed the sophomore had what it took to lead a team with five upperclassmen. With only one graduating senior last season, Chain is once again a co-captain along with seniors Nicki Breves and Karen Wigal.


"I (was a leader) it in high school but being a leader is different here because I was a sophomore and there were a lot of girls that were older," Chain said. "I try to lead by example. I'm not the vocal type. I hope that my actions speak for themselves. With Nicki and Karen this year, it's easier to lead with three people."


Her actions speak volumes on and off the course. Chain is the only Cooper Scholar on the team, a member of the Honors College and a 2005 SEC Academic Honor Roll Recipient.


"When I was looking at schools, I wanted to go somewhere in the South," Chain said. "I'm from Connecticut and I hated running in the cold. South Carolina just seemed like a great place academically and athletically to attend."


Athletically, she also paced the Gamecocks in each event last season, running No. 1 in all seven events that she participated in, including the SEC Championships where she set a PR in the 6K with a time of 21:44. The SEC Championships were held in Columbia and gave her a chance to showcase her abilities to a home crowd, a rare occasion as the Gamecocks only host one Invitational each season that occurs the first weekend of the season.


"The SEC Championships were the most memorable event because they were held here at home last year," Chain said. "It was fun to have a lot of support for that meet. My parents even came down and it was a good experience and the team gave its all."


Chain, who was one of the Carolina runners that came down with bronchitis in the past week, hopes to lead her team to a top half finish this season in the SEC's. She did not compete at the Clemson Invitational because of a heel blister, but the Gamecocks were able to win with a comfortable margin to bring the team to 2-0 on team titles thus far this season. The school-record start has her setting goals that rise above her individual goal of breaking 17 minutes this season.


"I want to be one of the top placed runners in every event this season, but I also want us to get better as a team because we have a lot more depth this year," Chain said.


With only three seniors and three juniors on the team, Chain is looking forward to leading the Gamecocks just as she's done the past two seasons - with inspiring times and a hard work ethic. Her next chance comes this weekend at the prestigious Great American Cross Country Festival in Hoover, Alabama, where she and the Gamecocks hope to prove that their hard work has paid off.


"The first two races this season we won easily," Chain said. "I'm looking forward to competing this weekend and seeing how we size up against some of the traditionally top schools. I know that Auburn will be there and it will be good to see how we stack up against another SEC team."




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