Athlete of the Month features a student-athlete who has demonstrated outstanding success in their sport, honorable contributions to the Wellesley community and strong leadership since their time playing at the collegiate level. Ari Marks ‘22 embodies all of these qualities.
While competing during her first year at Wellesley, Marks had a 5K PR (19:34.0) and finished with a 6K PR (23:57.5) at the NCAA DIII New England Region XC Championship in the cross country season. She also made one top 10 finish and had a personal best with a time of 5:31.41 in the mile. Despite COVID-19 disrupting the 2019-20 season, Marks had two personal bests, three top 10 appearances and represented Wellesley in the 3000m at the New England DIII Indoor Women’s Championship, finishing in fifth place. Now a senior, Marks has finished in first place for the third time, most recently at the Suffolk Invitational, and will continue to lead the way for the Blue the rest of the season.
Marks is from Eagle Point, OR. She graduated from Crater’s School of Business, Innovation and Science, where she was captain of the cross country team her senior year. At Wellesley, Marks is majoring in political science.
A teammate summed up Marks’ exciting senior season by saying she’s “winning races left, right and center!” As a testament to this, Marks was named the New England Women’s & Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Women’s Cross Country Runner of the Week for the week of Sept. 19, 2021. With great momentum and three consecutive wins, Marks is ready to head into the NEWMAC championships.
The News interviewed Marks earlier this week.
TWN: What advice do you have for student-athletes as they return to regular competition?
AM: I would say to put forward your best effort and really try to savor every moment because as we’ve seen during the pandemic, there’s no guarantee that everything won’t be taken away from us. Treat every meet/tournament/game like it could be your last and have as much fun with it as possible.
TWN: Have you faced any adversity as your season has progressed? If so, how were you able to overcome those challenges?
AM: While I’ve been fortunate not to face any huge setbacks or complications so far this season, I’ve found that there is always going to be adversity in running; that’s just the nature of endurance sports. There are certainly days when I feel tired or crappy during a tough workout, but I know I can rely on my teammates and coach to help push me through it.
TWN: What gets you most excited to play your sport?
AM: Running is a unique sport because you can practice it just about anywhere without anything but a pair of shoes (preferably Nikes). I love being able to go out every day and challenge myself, whether it is with other runners or just on my own. Some days I feel amazing the entire run, but even when I don’t feel great physically, there’s something intrinsically rewarding about finishing the run anyway.
TWN: What is something you’ve learned about yourself and/or the world since the start of the pandemic?
AM: The pandemic has shown me how important social connections are to our overall well-being. Even when we have to socially distance ourselves, maintaining a strong support system of friends and family members can be invaluable.
TWN: Where’s your favorite place to run on campus?
AM: To the Lulu Dining Hall when I get out of class at 12:35 — it’s always a race! And of course the lake trails.
TWN: What’s your favorite memory from Wellesley Cross Country (XC)?
AM: I really enjoyed the Cross Country preseason going into my first year because I made a bunch of new friends on the team, and I didn’t associate the campus with the stress of school yet!
TWN: How have your teammates shaped you as a runner?
AM: I’ve watched some of my teammates, like Grace Cowles ’21, have a lot of success by working hard and being consistent, and that inspired me to dedicate myself to improving. But all of my teammates have affected me in some way, whether it’s by cheering me on during a race, giving me helpful life advice or pushing me through a hard long run on Sunday morning.
If you want to see Ari Marks in action, the Blue is getting ready for the NEWMAC championships hosted by Wellesley at Nehoiden Golf Club on Saturday, Oct. 30, starting at noon.