It's been a long road for Victoria Chang since she ran in the NCAA cross country meet in 2000.
UHs Chang hopes
for better showing
By Tim Crouse
She was at Stanford then, and wound up finishing 217th.
In the two years since, the Punahou graduate battled injuries before transferring to Hawaii earlier this year. Tomorrow, Chang will try to become the second Hawaii Wahine to earn All-America honors, at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.
Chang is healthy now and will try to duplicate Cheryl Smith's feat last year.
Smith placed 18th at the meet in Greenville, S.C., to become the first UH runner to earn All-America honors.
While that goal is within Chang's reach, she doesn't have a specific finish in mind.
"I think I just want to go up there and have fun and make the most of this experience," Chang said.
The race is six kilometers. The temperature tomorrow in Terre Haute is expected to be in the high 30s. Race time is scheduled for 7 a.m. Hawaii time.
"I would definitely like to go out there and feel strong and hopefully rested so that I know I can have a good race," said Chang, who arrived in Indiana yesterday.
"I try not to think about (jet lag)," she said. "One of my teammates (tells me), 'Don't look at your watch, just go with the time there.' So that's what I'll try to do.
"I actually haven't had a lot of races since (my 2000 NCAA appearance). I was injured for about a year and a half, and during that time when I wasn't competing I was hanging out and learning a lot from my teammates. I realize what I need to do as far as training and staying healthy, things that work for me and things that don't work."
Chang placed third at the Western Athletic Conference Championships earlier in the month, crossing the finish line in 17 minutes and 42 seconds. At the West Regional last weekend at her old stomping grounds at Stanford, Chang was 12th at 21:51.
She was Hawaii's top finisher in each race she participated in this season, including a victory in 21:46 at the Triton Classic in San Diego.
At Punahou, Chang won eight state championships in cross country and track and field. She graduated in the spring of 2000 and was named the Pac-10 women's newcomer of the year after a strong freshman campaign at Stanford.
"I definitely feel different from when I was competing in high school," she said. "Every year since then has been a little bit different. This cross country season was with a different coach and a new program, so I developed new muscles and learned new skills and strategies."
Chang's top 6K time in her collegiate career is 20:45, set at the Pac-10 Championships in 2000.
Chang still has a year of eligibility left at UH in cross country and three years left of track and field.
Smith and Chang are the only two Wahine to qualify for nationals, although UH did send five runners to the AIAW championship meets in 1977-78.
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