Hard work pays off for Tischler

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

STRASBURG — Rachel Tischler is living proof that hard work pays off.

The Strasburg senior cross country runner struggled to make it into the top seven last year, but this year she has emerged as one of the team’s top runners.

“My first two years I was not good at all. I ran developmental races. I wasn’t in any of the big races,” Tischler said. “I never went to the invitationals during track. But I think that not being as good kind of motivated me to work harder so I could do those things and be involved. Hard work, it pays off — it is a real thing. If you just keep your mind to it, it will work out.”

Tischler has competed as Strasburg’s No. 2 runner most of the year, but last week she reached the top in the biggest race of the year. Tischler finished third in the Conference 35 meet at New Market Battlefield Park in a time of 21:52.60, finishing around 13 seconds ahead of freshman teammate Grace Dellinger.

Her strong effort helped earn Tischler The Northern Virginia Daily’s Female Athlete of the Week of Oct. 26-Nov. 1.

“I remember going into it I was telling myself that I was really pumped, that I was really excited to be there. I think just that positive energy really helped me do well in the race,” Tischler said. “I was very surprised at the result. I’ve been working very hard for three or four years now. I feel like all that hard work is finally paying off, and it feels good.”

Strasburg coach Jeff Rudy said after the meet on Wednesday that Tischler is a great example for her teammates.

“She epitomizes what hard work and dedication means to a distance runner — that it takes running day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year,” Rudy said. “She is a senior and we’ve seen her grow as an athlete from spring of her freshman year and dedicating herself to the sport of running, and [the Conference 35 meet was] an example of what hard work and dedication will do.”

Tischler said that she started running for the school in track during her freshman season. She said she always enjoyed running when she was little, especially in the longer distances.

“I guess distance running intrigued me from a young age, and from then on I started running a little bit in the summer, leading up to my freshman year,” Tischler said. “As school started coach Rudy, I guess you could say, he recruited me and from then on it’s just been running.”

Last year Tischler said she started to notice improvement as she battled it out at the back end of Strasburg’s top seven. That helped motivate her even more going into this season.

Strasburg lost some runners to graduation from last year’s team and Tischler knew she needed to keep improving. She started out the season running in the No. 3 spot for the Rams, but in a tri-meet against Warren County and William Monroe she finished second for the Rams for the first time.

“I was like, ‘wow, I can do this. If I work hard, this can happen. It can be real,'” Tischler said. “I think running just takes a lot of time. You have to do it all the time to get results, and I think it’s just coming together for me.”

The Rams finished second in the Conference 35 meet, and will run in the Region 2A East meet on Wednesday at Panorama Farms in Charlottesville.

Tischler said she’s very proud of how the Rams, who only have 10 runners, have done this year.

“We were worried about filling our team spots, but I think everyone has done a really good job of just staying together and staying focused,” Tischler said. “I’m excited for what we can do in this championship season.”

Being a senior, Tischler said it’s sad knowing that her high school running days will soon be coming to an end. She said she has tried to be a good leader for the team, which includes two freshmen and two sophomores.

“It’s a weird feeling, because I remember when I was a freshman all the senior girls, they were like role models,” Tischler said. “And now I feel like I’m a role model, and I guess it just makes me more aware of what I do because I want the girls to look up and say she’s doing it, so I can do the same.”

Tischler said she’s very excited to finish her senior cross country season on a high note. She said she knows the course at Panorama Farms is tough and will be a challenge.

Tischler got a little taste of what to expect on Wednesday.

“I actually went to the ACC meet this past Friday and I got to watch the college runners, the big leagues I guess, run,” Tischler said. “It was really cool because it was on the same course at Panorama Farms. I felt like that was really neat just to see that. It really motivated me to get my head into it and just go for it. It was very inspirational, so I hope I can do well there.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com