Ahead of the pack

Niamh Ashe has finished as the fastest Bobcat in every race for the last two years

By on October 1, 2014
New England's 2013 - 051

To say Niamh Ashe has had a successful start to her running career at Quinnipiac would be an understatement.

Ashe, who most recently finished as the fastest runner for the women’s cross country team at the Monmouth Invitational on Sept. 20, has finished atop the team in all seven appearances during her freshman and sophomore year combined.

All of her success, according to Quinnipiac women’s cross country head coach Carolyn Martin, is because of her willingness to work hard and take advice from others.

“I just love working with her,” Martin said. “[Ashe is] coachable, she listens to everything you tell her; she really is one of the easiest kids to work with. She eats up everything you say, she only wants to make herself better and better.”

And no matter what, Martin says, Ashe shows up to practice each and every day with a smile on her face. She’s always ready to run.

“She’s really a unique individual,” Martin said. “She has some swag, we call it. She has a really funny sense of humor, but is really humble and has the inner confidence to be so good.”

During her freshman season in 2013, Ashe finished as an All-New England and All-MAAC runner.

But the sophomore didn’t always see herself as such a successful racer.

In high school, Ashe played mainly lacrosse and soccer during her freshman and sophomore years. She started lacrosse when she was in the fourth grade and soccer at the age of 6.

“I thought I was going to be the next Mia Hamm” Ashe said with a grin.

Then, during her junior year of high school, she decided to join the cross country team. She originally joined to stay in shape and prepare for the upcoming lacrosse season, but after some convincing words from her coach, Ashe decided to join the outdoor track team during the spring instead.

“When I started cross country I wasn’t very fast, but as the season progressed I got better and better,” Ashe said. “By the end of that season I became the team’s top runner.”

She joined a running camp during the summer before her senior year of high school. There, she started perfecting her craft.

Ashe visited Quinnipiac during her senior season of high school, looking specifically at the university’s nursing program. She then contacted Martin, and invited Martin to some of her meets.

“When I first met Niamh, I liked that her program did very little,” Martin said. “They didn’t do a lot of mileage. She was very untapped and had a lot of raw talent that she wasn’t really working into yet.”

Ashe’s motivation comes from her competitive spirit, which is what drives her during races.

Whenever Ashe is in practice, she’s focused only on racing. She runs for her teammates, who she claims help push her to the top of each and every race.

“We all have the same goals,” Ashe said, “and you don’t want to let them down”.

Ashe is also very active in her community. Since she was 10 years old, she was a member of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernian organization. For the past year, she served as president to more than 40 girls.

In her time with the organization, Ashe did many community service activities including Thanksgiving food drives for the homeless, Christmas parties, creating Easter baskets for the youth and clothing drives. She also worked with autistic children under the organization East Islip Buddies.

“We worked with them in a gym and encouraged them to engage in physical activities with the other autistic children,” she said.

But the list of organizations Ashe is involved in doesn’t stop there. She also trains to be an EMT with her mother, and is hoping to get certified.

This past summer, she volunteered as a camp counselor at a running camp. And Ashe is currently a member of the snowboarding club as well as the Nursing Association at Quinnipiac.

So how does she have time to attend practice, compete, do community service, be a part of all the organizations listed above and maintain her current two-semester Dean’s List streak?

“I like having a busy schedule because I perform better,” Ashe said.

Looking forward, she said she is excited for the MAAC Cross Country Championship race.

“I’m excited to run against Iona again,” Ashe said. “We have a stronger team this year and I can’t wait to see how we do. I’m excited to run with [my teammates].”

In its inaugural year in the MAAC last year, the women’s cross country team came in second place in the championship meet, trailing only Iona. Ashe came in third place out of the 145 participants, and was the only non-Iona athlete to finish top five overall.

This year’s MAAC Championship is scheduled for Oct. 31 at Holmdel Park in Holmdel, N.J.

All the while, Ashe strives to continue leading the Bobcats to the top of the conference.

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