Four school records. Two-time elite meet champion. All-SEC honors. All-Region honors.
Those stats sound like the marks of a tenured athlete, but junior cross country and track & field standout Haley Cutright is only halfway finished with her career at Ole Miss.
Her recent 11th-place finish at the Southeastern Conference Cross Country Championships with a time of 20:46.64 makes her one of four Rebel women to ever run a 6K under 21 minutes. The finish earned her All-SEC second team honors, becoming the third Rebel female to ever be named All-SEC in cross country. This past weekend, she finished 16th at the NCAA South Regional Championships with a time of 20:38.94 to help lead the Rebel women to a fifth-place finish and earn All-Region honors.
She credits her success to second-year assistant coach Erin Dawson, who oversees the women’s distance runners. When Dawson came in, she increased the training levels and mileage for the team. Cutright quickly got into shape to reach her high-school potential despite a difficult freshman season the year before.
Dawson remembers Cutright’s first breakthrough race in her sophomore cross country season. She ran a 5K time close to her best high school mark, which gave her confidence, Dawson says.
“After that race she was really improving by leaps and bounds,” said Dawson. “Now she just keeps getting faster.”
Since then, the Roanoke, Va., native has improved her 5K time by more than two minutes. She holds the indoor mile (4:50.47) and 3K (9:36.37) individual school records and was the mile leg on the record-breaking distance medley relay team (11:30.13). She also holds the school record in her premier outdoor track and field event, the 3,000-meter steeplechase (10:21.60).
“My favorite thing about race day is when it’s over,” laughed Cutright. “There’s no better feeling than when you finish a race and you know you did well. Leading up to it is very nerve-racking and the duration is very painful, so it’s definitely nice to finish.”
Dawson says Cutright is a coach’s dream athlete.
“She’s got tenacity. That young lady does not like to lose. She’s competitive and she’s extremely coachable,” Dawson said.
For Cutright, the school records and clock-breaking times are not enough. She plans to accomplish more with Ole Miss Track & Field as a team and individually.
“I want to be a good scorer and get high marks for the team. I just want to get faster this year and it would be nice to break some records along the way,” Cutright said. “I’m just going to keep working and see what happens.”
Dawson says last year’s success can only foreshadow what is to come for Cutright’s career.
“Last year I think was kind of her breakthrough year, and I think this year we will see even more out of her,” Dawson said. “I think that she can achieve whatever she puts her mind to because she is an amazing young lady and a talented athlete.”
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