Senior Cross Country Runner May Continue to Compete

Jack Malone, Reporter

While student athletes may have more on their schedules than the average student, senior psychology Pre-DPT major Olivia Vissagio wouldn’t have it any other way.

She said she would not have gotten the same college experience if she were only a student.

“I’ve always been an athlete. In my opinion, as a student athlete it is a better experience because it is not just school. You have so many other things to look forward too and to be involved with,” Vissagio said.

Her passion for running started in high school, and that led her to want to continue at the college level.

“I took running more seriously in high school than all my other sports,” she said. “I did swimming for a long time. I also did softball, volleyball, basketball, so I did a bunch of stuff, but running was something I was the most passionate about and wanted to continue it in college.”

Vissagio’s decision to come to Misericordia was based on her major, but the opportunity to run was another reason.

“My major is pysch Pre-DPT, and I wanted to come to a school with the direct entry program for PT, and since Mis is DIII, I decided that I can also run,” she said.

She said finds her time as a college athlete has been even better than she expected.

“Everyone is more of the same level in college. In high school, some people do it for different reasons, but in college you’re kind of expected to do well. Everyone or almost everyone wants to improve and to be champions for cross and for track,” said Vissagio.

She said she has loved her time running as a Cougar for both the cross country and track and field teams. But she loves the relationships and friendships she builds with her teammates  even more.

“As a freshman, there were a lot of seniors that I looked up to, and they’re all very motivated, so that was helpful and that helped build and continues building the team dynamic of the way we take things seriously but also have fun. It is just a very well rounded team, both the guys and the girls, so it is enjoyable,” she said.

Vissagio has experienced many great things on both the track and cross country teams. Her most fondest experience was getting to the 2019 MAC outdoor track and field championship.

“That was my first MACs. It was my sophomore year, and I had freshman eligibility but that was the best experience I think. It was so fun because it was three days of MACs, and you’re spending the whole time with your teammates, and the energy was very good and enjoyable.”

Vissagio said there have been hard times in her college career as well.

Olivia Vissagio, senior cross country runner and psychology PRE-DPT major, does a warm-up run before practice starts. (Jack Malone)

“There really have been bad memories, I would say,” she said. “I try to look at the bright side for all of it. The bad things would be bad workouts or bad races. But nothing with the team. It’s really only my individual performance.”

Vissagio has been a part of multiple MAC championship teams for both track and cross country. She made the Academic All MAC team and has been the team MVP for both track and cross country. But the NCAA Division III national cross country meet was the greatest accomplishment.

“That was a goal my entire season, and I dedicated everything to that,” Vissagio said.

She said this year was different because the MAC suspended fall sports due to COVID-19. Still, she is proud to be on campus and able to run with her teammates before she graduates.

“I was hoping we would have a season, but I was expecting the possibility of not having one. So, in that sense it didn’t come as a huge shock, but I am still proud of how everyone is doing because everyone is still working hard and there are some rough patches we are working through. But for the most part everyone is still generally motivated by each other,” Vissagio said.

She is graduating this year, but her college athletic career might not be over just yet. She will remain at the university to get a degree in physical therapy, and she will continue to compete if the opportunity is there.

“I have another year of eligibility because I got it back from my first year, so I plan on using it as long as I can,” she said.