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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Lucy Ndungu uses self-confidence and faith to excel at cross country

Cheyanne Tull
Lucy Ndungu, newcomer and one of Wichita State’s top runners pronounces her name to the audience at the JK Gold Classic meet at Clapp Park. Ndungu finished in first place with a time of 17:42.5 in the 5k.

When Lucy Ndungu lived in Kenya as a kid, she would run errands on foot for her neighbors.

“If my neighbors wanted something or were running out of salt or sugar, they would call my name, and I would run to the store,” Ndungu said.

Today, Ndungu runs for the Wichita State cross country team. A junior transfer from Cloud County Community College, she won her debut race as a Shocker last month, then placed third at both of her next two meets, setting new personal bests each time. She has already been named American Athletic Conference Cross Country Athlete of the Week twice this season.

Ndungu moved from Kenya to America when she was 10-years-old. She recounted that she joined track in middle school on the advice of her gym teacher, who saw her pacing the pack in time trials during physical education class. However, she said she truly got into running in high school when she joined the cross country team.

“I thought we were going to run on a track because I did not know anything about cross country,” Ndungu said. “So we went out on the roads, and the first day, I did six miles. And I’m like, ‘This is not the way to the track. I don’t know what’s going on.’ So after that, I was like, ‘I don’t want to come back.’ But my high school teammates, and my coach convinced me to keep coming back, and that’s how it started.”

Ndungu said track and cross country were the first extracurriculars at the school that she had joined since moving to America.

“I just felt like I was doing more than just studying, and I felt part of it,” Ndungu said. “I had something I could do that could make me be involved in the school. It was a way for me to make friends and have connections.”

Ndungu said that at Cloud County, there were other immigrants that she could relate to. However, this year, she transferred to Wichita State because Head Coach Kirk Hunter persistently checked on her.

“Other coaches were recruiting me too, but they were not as involved as coach Hunter was,” Ndungu said. “He really cared as a person, not just me being an athlete … He just saw a lot of potential in me that helped me see the potential in myself.”

Ndungu, a Christian, explained that during meets, she relies on her faith in God to find an extra wind.

“In a meet, I would just be finding myself talking to God,” Ndungu said. “Especially in the middle, I’m feeling everything; everything is becoming difficult. I just turn it off real quick and then just start speaking to God. And then around the end, you’ll see the leap of faith, the belief, and I just start to take off.”

Going forward, Ndungu said that she hopes to be a professional runner. For this season, she’s focused on continuing to push herself and set new bests.

“Coach Hunter, he tells me so much,” Ndungu said. “Now, I need to take that in and put it into action. Just listen to my body and just challenge myself.” 

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About the Contributors
Jacob Unruh
Jacob Unruh, Assistant Sports Editor
Jacob Unruh is the assistant sports editor for The Sunflower. He is a junior at Wichita State, majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. This is Unruh's first year on staff. He goes by he/him pronouns.
Cheyanne Tull
Cheyanne Tull, Reporter
Cheyanne Tull is a first year reporter, photographer and illustrator for The Sunflower. Tull is double majoring in graphic design and journalism & media production. She hopes to work for outdoor publications in the future combining creativity, nature, and rock climbing. Tull uses she/her pronouns.

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