By Erica Dunigan
Amy Pierson, nursing senior, has yet to be beat by another National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics runner this season. Not only is Pierson an accomplished runner, she is an excellent student in the classroom and a leader for her teammates.
After graduating from Clay Center High School in 2007, Pierson started her journey to Southwestern College. She wasn’t alone though. Her high school teammate Jordan Unruh, nursing senior, accompanied her.
“I have actually been playing sports with Amy since we were about eight years old,” said Unruh. “We have been on softball, soccer and running teams together. Amy has been a great teammate of mine for nearly 13 years. Being at SC with Amy has really helped strengthen our friendship. We have both grown a lot since we have been here. Running with her is great. Always has been.”
Something Pierson has to be good at is managing her time wisely. “It’s rough. Time management is a constant battle,” said Pierson. “I have classes throughout the day, then practice, SCANS, and then homework. I do manage to get my sleep.”
Besides running and academics, Pierson is president of Southwestern College Association of Nursing Students.
Pierson’s road wasn’t always easy at Southwestern. Pierson struggled with blood pressure problems her freshman year. Jim Helmer, head cross country and track coach, said, “As a freshman Amy was very talented, but at first she had health problems. She toughed through all her problems, including her stress fracture, which came her junior year during track season,” Helmer said. “She is having her best season yet, and as a senior it is always good to make it her best.”
Pierson has become a great role model for her teammates and students. Amy Pierson has been named Academic All-American in cross country and track, KCAC Runner of the week several times and, on Sept. 21, Pierson was named NAIA Women’s Cross Country Runner of the week for the first time.
“I was really surprised, honored, and blessed to have many opportunities like this,” said Pierson. “Coach Helmer has been very supportive and patient with me. For the support of my teammates and family, I truly feel blessed.”
Sydnee Nelson, biochemistry sophomore, a 2009 Clay Center graduate, also ran with Pierson in high school.
“It’s really not a big transition from running in high school to running college with Amy,” said Nelson. “I almost didn’t come here though because Amy and Jordan were here. I didn’t want to be judged because I wasn’t as fast or accomplished as a runner like they are right now.”
Pierson said, “To have two former teammates with me here at Southwestern is really fun, and it makes me feel like I’m back home sometimes. We have many stories we can tell to each other, and being teammates with Jordan since we were little, it’s nice to be able to have her here to talk to.”
Unruh said, “I couldn’t imagine not being here with Amy. We have been best friends and teammates for so long. It would be odd not to ‘shake-n-bake’ with anybody else before a race.”
Four years can fly by at Southwestern, and before you know it, it is time to graduate. Students typically either go to graduate school or find a job in their area of study. For Pierson it has been a little stressful, but exciting, to see where her nursing degree will take her. “My plans are to become a nurse where ever the good Lord takes me,” said Pierson.
Pierson hopes to take first at conference Nov. 6 at Kansas Wesleyan and finish in the top 30 at nationals a few weeks later, finishing her last season strong. “It’s sad to see my four years at SC coming to a close. I will miss my teammates and coach Helmer greatly, but I can’t wait to start my career and to continue to run for fun.”
Erica Dunigan is a junior majoring in professional communication. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org .