| 03.20.2018

An unconventional journey


Distance runner’s career spans years of success

Some believe life’s focus shouldn’t be about the destination, but rather the journey you take to get there.

For Idaho distance runner Holly Stanton, both are worthy of examination, and both are unique in their own ways.

Stanton’s journey began in Florida, where she began running competitively for a small private school in the eighth grade. But being homeschooled, Stanton didn’t get to enjoy the luxury of sharing her time in the sport with her classmates.

Stanton, Holly  1

Spencer Farrin | Courtesy
Senior distance runner Holly Stanton competes in the steeplechase event against WAC opponents. Stanton has helped lead Idaho to either cross country or track and field championships during each year she has competed since 2010.


“You’re definitely the odd man out,” Stanton said. “You’re looked at differently. They’re all friends and they spend all day going to the same classes or have seen each other around school, and you’re just the random kid who shows up at 3:15 p.m. for practice.”

Such an isolating experience would be enough to make some people walk away with a consolation prize of at least attempting, but Stanton didn’t approach it as a defeating endeavor. Rather, she said she credits the experience as something that made her a more confident person.

“I didn’t have the security blanket of knowing people already,” Stanton said. “I had to fend for myself and make friends purely by talking with other kids without the ‘Oh, we’re in the same class,’ start point.”

The developed confidence proved to be helpful, and Stanton began a rapid series of transitions. In the span of just one year, Stanton enrolled in and graduated from a public high school, moved with her family from Florida to Moscow and looked forward to starting college. And this was where the plan was augmented and a dialogue was established with former Idaho track and field coach, Wayne Phipps.

“I wanted to run in college but hadn’t thought of it that much,” Stanton said. “But once we got here, my dad and I started reaching out to coach Phipps. We emailed him my mile time and that I was interested, and eventually I decided to go for it and give it a shot.”

It proved to be a good decision. During her time with Vandal cross country and track and field, Stanton enjoyed many achievements.

Last year, Stanton helped secure an outdoor WAC track and field championship with her second-place finish in the 3000-meter steeplechase, earning her first-team All-WAC honors.

In 2013 she finished third overall in the WAC cross country finals, again helping her team earn a championship — women’s cross country’s fourth consecutive WAC title.

Clearly, Stanton will have many fond memories of Idaho. While Stanton is undeniably proud of the accolades, her achievements in sports only complement her achievements in life, which she has plenty of, too.

“I think most everyone is going to say the friendships and relationships they’ve had,” Stanton said, of what she appreciates the most about her time at Idaho. “Also how we all learn to face the challenges of being a student athlete is going to stay with me the rest of my life. That has made me become a more scheduled person, more disciplined for sure, very determined as well, but the friends I’ve made on this team are going to last a lifetime. The friends that you suffer with are your closest friends.”

Stanton will no doubt have continued successes in life after she graduates this May. Earning two degrees while in school, Stanton plans to return to Florida, where she hopes to put her time to good use and become a teacher and a running coach.

By now, it’s evident Stanton’s journeys are anything but conventional. Plans are also in the making for Stanton to possibly travel abroad and serve as a teacher overseas.

Stanton and crew compete in a host of California track meets this weekend before returning to competition on the Palouse April 25 in Pullman for WSU’s Cougar Invitational. Two weeks later, Vandal track and field will host its second and final home meet May 8 at the Dan O’Brien Track and Field Complex.

Kyle Schumaker can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu

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