Lacey Gibson’s diet has become her secret weapon.
Gibson, a sophomore runner for the cross-country team, said she has been a vegetarian since eighth grade when a friend introduced her to the lifestyle.
“I’ve never really liked meat,” Gibson said. “It kind of grossed me out. For me, the transition wasn’t too hard.”
She said her diet usually consists of whole grains, salads, fruits and vegetables.
Cross-country coach Matt Sparks said Gibson’s eating habits improve her performance as an athlete and as a scholar.
“Since she is a vegetarian, she has to be a lot more aware of what she eats,” he said. “She really sticks to it, and that makes her a role model for the other girls, especially in regards to nutrition.”
However, Gibson’s diet isn’t perfect. She admits she has an obsession for chocolate.
“I love chocolate … it’s a guilty pleasure of mine,” Gibson said.
Apart from that, Gibson said her biggest challenge this year is the social aspect of school.
“There is so much to be involved in … so much to do,” she said. “I would love to join more clubs, be more involved in things … but I just don’t have enough time. It’s sometimes a struggle trying to limit the things I’m a part of.”
Gibson, from Carbondale, said having her family so close allows her to have a unique support system.
“My family and friends are great,” she said. “I’m lucky to have everyone so close … I can go home on the weekends or even the weekdays.”
Sparks said Gibson’s high energy and focus is a valued asset to the team.
“Her level of intensity really helps set the tone of the team in races,” he said. “I guess you would set the tone when you are probably the fastest person on the team.”
Junior runner Alyssa Allison said Gibson is one of the team’s hardest workers.
“She has her own quiet confidence. She does what she needs to do and doesn’t boast about it,” Allison said. “She is very humble and leads by example.”
Last year, Gibson won All-MVC in the 10k during the outdoor season, where she finished third at the MVC championships at 36 minutes and 20.96 seconds. She said the top three finish in the championship was the crowning achievement in her athletic career.
“It was the first time I did a 10k race … And to have that type of success really surprised me in a good way,” Gibson said.
Sparks said the long races are Gibson’s best events.
“The longer the race, the better she runs,” Sparks said.
Gibson was first introduced to long distance when she was in high school and ran with her mom.
“My mom would race in a few 5k races when I was younger,” she said. “After awhile I decided to join in a few, and I haven’t quit since.”
Gibson, a physiology major, is an avid Maroon 5 fan. She said “Songs about Jane” is one of her favorite albums of all time.
“I love their music, but I don’t listen to music at practice or at a meet,” she said. “It’s really hard to watch out for cars and other dangers if you are too distracted listening to music.”
Gibson finished third at the Walt Crawford Open in Charleston and she said she looks to continue her successful season start at the Saluki Invitational at 10 a.m. Sept. 22 in Carbondale.