Shields developing into one of nation’s top runners after successful weekend

Written By Meghan Macioce

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Cross country standout Anna Shields can be described in three words.

“Dedicated. Confident. Caring,” teammates Katie Guarnaccia and McKenzie Wilson said.

Shields broke a school record this year in the women’s 5K at the NAIA Cross Country National Championship by 8 seconds and finished 60th in a race of 344 runners.

A Torrington, Co. native, Shields joined the cross-country team when she was in 6th grade because she had just moved schools and thought it would be a good way to meet friends.

Prior to Shields joining the cross-country team, she had never played a sport before. She quickly became one of the best athletes in her high school as she became an All-American after she won the 5,000-meter at the Nike Indoor Nationals.

The race is an event that consists of 12.5 laps around the track. It is one of the many events that Shields has excelled at in the current track and field season.

Shields has already qualified for two events for Nationals in the indoor season for track and field, but her goal for this season is to qualify for five total events and be an All-American at Nationals.

Shields took a short hiatus from school, but not running. She coached at local high schools around her hometown until she realized she wanted to go back to school and pursue a degree in English.

“I’ve always been a good writer, but what I want to do is be a coach,” Shields said. “You can go with various majors for that, so I’m hoping after I have a bachelor’s [degree] I can apply for coaching positions.”

Shields hopes to be a great coach like her current one, Kelly Parsley. He is the main reason she chose Point Park. Since Shields took a break from school, she no longer qualified for an NCAA school, but did qualify for the NAIA schools.

“I called Coach Parsley, and I really liked my conversations with him,” Shields said. “He had a lot of confidence in me as an athlete, so that really encouraged me.”

“Confidence” was one words that Guarnaccia used to describe Shields as well. Shields was battling an illness most of last semester that left her with a low energy level at the beginning of the season. As she became healthier, Guarnaccia described Shields as “more confident in her athletic abilities.”

With a healthier Shields in the lineup, Guarnaccia felt the benefits on the track.

“She’s made practice way more beneficial for me because her and I run about the same times,” Guarnaccia said.

In fact, at the Cross-Country National Championships, Shields was only five-hundredths of a second behind Guarnaccia.

However, there is more to Shields than just running. When she isn’t training for cross-country or track, she likes to draw, write and explore Pittsburgh. She’s also a great friend and teammate.

“She’s the most encouraging person I’ve ever met,” Wilson said. “She’s funny, caring and an all-around great friend.”

Her teammates agree that after Shields is done running her race, you can find her cheering for her teammates.

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