Haley Herberg Fr. | University of oklahoma cross country

University of Oklahoma cross country freshman Haley Herberg has had an exceptional debut season for the Sooners, compiling four top-five individual finishes, including claiming All-Big 12 and All-Midwest region honors. Herberg will compete at the 2018 NCAA Cross Country Championships in Madison, Wis., on Saturday morning in the women's 6K at 10:45 a.m. CT after claiming fifth at the Midwest regional to claim an auto-bid. Herberg recently took time to talk about her freshman campaign and mentality heading into nationals.

Herberg claimed second in her first collegiate meet at the Hurricane Invitational in Tulsa, Okla., leading the OU women's team to a first-place finish.

What made you choose the University of Oklahoma?

“I'm from California, so I was looking at different schools close to home and far from home. I went on my official visits and I just really liked OU and the school itself. I wanted to do engineering and we have environmental engineering here and I just really liked the athletics program in general and the overall spirit, especially the track team. I really liked Coach Ondrasek, too. That’s just kind of why I chose here.”

The freshman captured another top-five finish at the Arturo Barrios-Texas A&M Invitational in College Station, crossing the line fifth in the 6K in 20:43.0.

Do you have any runners in the family and if so, what's their competitive background?

“Actually, my whole family. So, my mom and dad were runners and my sister was a runner, as well. My sister ran at California-Berkley. My mom's from Hobart, Okla., and her high school didn't have a cross country team. She had met a friend who had coached cross country at Norman High School, so she encouraged my mom to do cross country. She began running for her school in Hobart, but they didn’t have a team. She just trained on her own and ironed 'Hobart' on a shirt and kind of began cross country there.”

What gave you the confidence that you could make such an impact your freshman year here at OU?

“My mentality going into freshman year is kind of the same way I remember it in high school; it is I don’t want it to just be ‘Oh, she did good for a freshman’, I just want to do good, period. You never know what is going to happen next season and right now I am healthy and feel fit, so I am just going to make the most of this season. I have really enjoyed the training here and all the resources, so I'm just going to take this season as far as I possibly can. It is scary going into the college world, all these really fit girls and everything, but I just have to kind of not think about that.”

Herberg claimed All-Midwest region honors from the USTFCCCA after taking fifth in the 6K at the NCAA Midwest regional championships, crossing the line in 20:26.7.

How did it feel to be named to both the All-Big 12 team and also collect All-Region honors?

“All-Big 12 was one of my favorite moments this season, that was amazing. All-Region is still kind of sinking in, for sure. This whole season I really wanted to make it to nationals and now I want to do really good at nationals, but it’s a little bit surreal. I feel like this season has kind of gone by fast and I just enjoy the process so much that it’s really gratifying.”

The California native collected All-Big 12 honors at the Big 12 Cross Country Championship after claiming third in the 6K in 20:05.9, her best 6K time of the season.

What was your favorite moment this season?

“All-Big 12, especially because I feel like my team kind of had a breakthrough and we ran as a team and that is one of my favorite things. Cross country is such a team sport, so all the little victories we’ve had as a team and all the steps we’ve taken to become really a good team has been one of my favorite things too.”

What are your goals heading into the NCAA championships?

“I really would like to get top 40. Nationals is so competitive; I could be in 15th place and then 60th the next second. My goal is just to run all out and take a shot at it and hopefully get top 40.”

Herberg will run in the 6K at the 2018 NCAA Cross Country Championships on Saturday, Nov. 17, at 10:45 a.m. CT. Results will be available via Record Timing. A live stream will also be available on a subscription basis through FloTrack.

For updates and more information on Oklahoma cross country, follow the Sooners on Twitter and Instagram (@OU_Track) and like Oklahoma Sooners Track & Field and Cross Country on Facebook.

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