Updated: Aug 20, 2019
By Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor Photos courtesy of Cornell Athletics
It’s a typically cold day on the campus of Cornell University, but that hasn’t stopped the yack and field team from getting their practice in.
What better way to get warm on a cold spring day then to run outside. As the indoor season comes to an end, it’s time to get back outside to the elements. As Western New Yorkers have found out over the past couple of springs - there is no spring.
Runners have to get used to elements. They have to get used to the cold and wind. Even the snow - sometimes. Gabrielle Orie is used to the cold, blustery spring that used to great her back in WNY.
After all, she was a standout runner for Nardin Academy. In fact, Orie was a standout athlete in general. If the running thing didn’t pan out, she could have always went to college for swimming. But, one day, it just clicked for Orie.
Maybe it was during a meet, or maybe it was her new coach in high school. But something just clicked inside her that she could take this running thing onto college. She loved swimming, but decided to dedicated herself to the track.
The track is where she calls home. Orie isn’t the sprint specialist. She makes her money doing long distance. The endurance part of running. This is where she earned her ticket to Cornell, and you can say the rest if history.
“One day, I just realized that I could run in college, and be very competitive in that,” stated Orie - recently by phone. “When it came down to colleges, I only really looked at Cornell and Pitt. When I visited Cornell there was really no going back.”
Orie stepped on the beautiful campus of Cornell and set the track ablaze. She wasn’t just your ordinary freshman trying to find her way around. She performed more like an upperclassmen than a freshman.
After freshman season, Orie held the freshman indoor track record for the mile, 3000, 5000 and DMR, and two freshman outdoor records in the 3000 and steeplechase. In addition, Orie ranks second in school history in the outdoor 3000 (9:25:52) and eight in the outdoor 5000 (16:31.33).
That’s not a bad way to start you college career.
“I really had such a strong team that is just boost your confidence,” stated Orie. “I definitely didn't think I would be where I was after freshman year. I try not to think during the race, and just going after it. You can’t think about a time when you race, and I think I thought about that a lot in high school.”
After freshman campaign like that it would be easy to just sit back and enjoy the success. It hasn’t been that way for Orie during her sophomore season. In her own admittance, Orie hasn’t had the greatest of indoor campaigns.
You could say that she is in the midst of a sophomore slump. Some athletes get it for no reason whatsoever. It just hits them. Orie knows what she expects from herself and she wasn’t up to par during the indoor season.
But, the outdoor season is upon us, and Orie feels herself working out of the issues she had during the first half of the season. She feels more at ease running outside in the elements. You could say it’s her home away from home.
“I’m just trying to execute my game plan during the race,” stated Orie. “I’m just trying to stay very disciplined and very patient. I think I’m crawling my way out. My first love has always been outdoor. The warm weather is coming around and I think I am starting to feel a lot like myself.”
The one thing she isn’t used to doing is running without her twin sister, Danielle. They were a dominating force during their time at Nardin, and now they face-off against each other during the season. Danielle is a standout runner for Penn.
The two run against each other during Ivy League meets. Orie will be the first one to admit that it is a little weird not being able to run with her sister, and only against her during the season.
She also is the first one to tell you that during the summer, when they train, they it gets vert competitive. They go after each other pretty hard, pushing each other to be the very best.
“It’s so weird because now she is my biggest competitor,” laughed Orie. “The first couple of runs we have together over the summer we race each other, because now we race each other. It’s totally fine. I definitely appreciate my runs with her, because it’s bitter sweet. I have great, great teammates that will fill that little void in my heart when I can’t run with my sister.”
Knock on wood, if there is one thing that Orie hasn’t had to deal with during her running career is major injuries. Every athlete will get their nicks and bruises, but Orie has been able to stay away from the big injury.
She makes sure she takes care of herself the best she can during the season, and in the offseason. Any bumps and bruises she gets to the training staff.
“Luck for me, I haven’t had any bone problems,” stated Orie. “I’ve had struggles with iron, which isn’t fun. As a distance runner your threshold is really messed up. You just can’t get enough oxygen that you need. We have some great physicians there for us, if anything is to go wrong. We have a massage therapist that we call Magic Mike, he is really awesome. We have a really great athletic trainer. The big thing is really staying on top of stretching. Making sure you are getting enough iron, it will go along way. Everything little thing will go a long, just like building a house.”
Staying healthy is important, especially because Orie isn’t a sprinter. She isn’t in the flashy races that take 10 seconds to finish. She is in the races that are all about endurance. The thing about long distance running is that you can start out of the blocks fast.
Long distances runners need to pace themselves early so they have something left for their finishing kick. Orie will admit she gets a little excited and likes to get out fast. She has tried to calm herself down at the beginning of a race, so she has something left in the end.
“Being a good distance runner is having a lot of discipline,” stated Orie. “You half to have a lot of patients, it’s not a sprint. It’s like the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the race. You can’t go hard the first couple of miles because you will be gassed. Sometimes I will struggle with being to excited the first couple of laps, and then you will feel it the next couple of laps. You have to be confident that you are doing the right thing in the race.”