The college experience can be daunting for a freshman student venturing out on their own for the very first time. The discipline and time management requirements needed to be successful at the collegiate level is not only far removed from grade school, but also gives students their first taste of the lives waiting for them beyond obtaining a diploma.
But don’t tell any of that to former Scotland High School star student athlete Cori Newton, who has continued the same track record for success as a freshman at Pfeiffer University this academic year.
“Things actually got easier for me when I got to college,” Newton said. “All of the stuff I did in high school and the organizational skills I learned there really helped me prepare for my college schedule. It hasn’t been that hard for me, honestly.”
Between balancing a three-sport schedule (cross country, track, softball) and finishing 10th in her graduating class with a 4.4 GPA, there was little that Newton didn’t accomplish during her time at Scotland High School.
Earning more than 60 individual sports accolades as a member of the Fighting Scots, Newton was also voted “most athletic” in 2012 by her high school peers when senior superlatives were announced. All the while, Newton managed to maintain an exhaustive conditioning schedule highlighted by 3-5 mile runs (taking place on the hand-built 3.1 mile track built around her family home) and 2000 jump rope repetitions that she committed to accomplishing every day.
This didn’t include the practices, meets and softball games that took up the remaining hours of Newton’s SHS student athlete schedule. But the hard work ultimately paid off when Newton earned approximately $78,000 worth of scholarships to attend Pfeiffer University and participate in their cross country program.
When she arrived at the university, it was business as usual for Newton.
“My biggest accomplishment in that first semester was keeping up with cross country while making good grades,” said Newton, who has aspirations of making the Dean’s List upon the conclusion of her freshman year in May. Newton finished in the top three of her cross country squad in overall times and made nearly straight A’s in her first semester.
“In college, you get more breaks in between classes, which allowed me to get my homework finished before my cross country practices. When I got back from practice in the evening, I studied daily for a couple hours and then I was finished,” she said.
In addition to her daily class schedule, Newton was required to participate in a strict cross country practice regime devised by head coach Scott Nolt. Mondays and Sundays were often considered “mileage days” by Newton, in which the team ran a ‘50 minute loop,’ consisting of a seven-mile trek around the Pfeiffer campus. Newton would complete the course at about 52 minutes on average, far better than the 55-minute time limit imposed by her coach. Tuesdays were spent in the weight-room, while Wednesdays saw the team run a five-mile course at a quicker pace while their coaches timed them.
And while most would consider a five-mile run to be strenuous at the very least, Newton described the relaxed pace she completed her Thursday runs as “chill days.” Nolt also encouraged his runners to practice at their own leisure; and as she did on a daily basis at her family home, Newton often found herself doing exactly that on off-days.
“If it was after a meet and we didn’t have practice that day, I liked to run on my own and stay loose,” Newton said. “Pfieiffer also has a really pretty campus so I often do solo runs to relax.”
Despite keeping a solid grasp on her student athlete schedule at Pfeiffer, there were undoubtedly challenges to be had for Newton in her first season with the school’s cross country team.
Newton and her teammates often had to navigate much more rugged terrain than they were used to in their high school careers, which led to the occasional practice held at a Chuck Moorehead Memorial Park (located in Abermarle, N.C.) course laden with steep hills. This led to many injuries throughout the year for both the girl’s and boy’s teams, which included Newton who suffered shin splints near the end of the season which concluded the first week of November.
But for the Pfeiffer freshman, the size and scope of the competition she faced this season was perhaps her biggest obstacle to overcome.
“The most runners I ever competed against was around 100 during a regional meet my senior year at Scotland,” Newton said. “I faced that every week in college, and it was hard to stand out against more than 100 runners from 10 to 20 different schools. The smaller groups of runners is what I miss most about high school.”
Even against top-tier competition and less-than-desirable course conditions, Newton finished the season near the top of her team and averaged about 22-minutes during the 5k runs (and occasional 6k runs) that she completed during her meets.
It was by all accounts a smooth transition for Newton, made even smoother by the hectic schedule she successfully held down during her high school career. And during her Christmas break, Newton returned to where she began laying the foundation for her past and present achievements.
“I’ve been running on the track around my house every day since I’ve been back,” said Newton, who returns to Pfeiffer University next week. “I always liked running here the best, because it’s comfortable and makes me feel like I’m back home again.”