LAS VEGAS, N.M. – Theresa Moser has seen large chunks of the world.
The native Austrian has competed in triathlon events from Russia to Ecuador and China to South Africa.
Now, she’s competing in somewhat less exotic locales, such as Hays, Kan., and Arvada, Colo.
Moser is a graduate student and cross-country runner for New Mexico Highlands University.
The top Cowgirls runner hopes to make an impact at the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference championships coming up Nov. 3, earn a shot at the NCAA South Central Regionals and, ultimately, go to the NCAA Championships.
Moser, 25, is also the leader of a pack of young and local Cowgirls – the remaining runners are freshmen and sophomores, and all hail from New Mexico.
“Sometimes, it’s a little bit difficult,” she admitted. “Most of them have families and friends around here, and they go home on weekends and I’m here on my own, but it’s interesting to work with the younger athletes. I think they have other attitudes. They think differently; they don’t think so much about the things I do and I think that’s a big advantage for them sometimes. I think I can learn quite a lot from them.”
It’s a big cultural difference, coach Bob DeVries said, but one that benefits both sides.
“I think that Theresa is a very good role model,” he said. “She’s our No. 1 runner right now, so she does pull them along in training. The thing that Theresa can learn from the girls, and I’ve spoken to her about this, is to lose a little bit of her Austrianism. Because she’s very much Austrian, straight, to the point, direct, let’s get this done. Most of our girls are from northern New Mexico, the land of mañana. We’re laid back. Sometimes, there’s a clash, and even she and I sometimes clash over it.”
But when it comes to training, Moser’s structure is sometimes a benefit.
“From my perspective as a coach, I’m very pleased with the results,” he said. “I’m very pleased with the leadership she shows. Not necessarily ‘Hey, hey, we need to do this.’ But if I say we’re going to run on this pace, she’s on that pace. And she kind of forces the others to follow.”
Moser came to Las Vegas almost as an afterthought when an offer from another school went awry, but she has found the small mountain city quite to her liking.
“Honestly, it’s not a lot different from home,” she said. “The climate is similar. The whole lifestyle is not too different. But I think the people are different here. They’re much more friendly, more open-minded. Everybody talks to me. In Austria, it’s not like that.”
Moser had been training, and studying teaching and mathematics, in noted winter sports haven Innsbruck – and will teach a skiing course at Highlands in the spring – before deciding she wanted to strengthen her running.
“It’s my first season where I really focused on running,” she said. “I did triathlons in my past. It was more or less my first priority. I didn’t really invest a lot into running. I was just excited. I wanted to see how fast I could get if I focused more on running. I continue to do swimming and biking here, so I can continue my triathalon training a little bit.”
As for that running, both coach and athlete seem pleased with the way things are headed.
“It’s going really well,” Moser said. “Everything moves into the right direction. The training is quite new for me. I was not used to doing so much fast, tough, hard running sessions. We do them two or three times a week, something fast. I used to do once a week fast, not even that. So it’s more intense. Not the amount of running, but the hard ones. I’m getting used to it.”