SOUTH ORANGE, N.J.- It’s a brisk, windy, October morning- the last days of October, to be specific, in those days shortly before Daylight Savings Time when it is quite dark in the early mornings. By now, many of the trees lining Ward Place have lost their leave. Up in South Mountain Reservation, the trees that haven’t lost their leaves are starting to glow in burning crimson and auburn as the sun lethargically peaks out over the horizon, bathing the New York City skyline in gold. As your alarm goes off, you snooze it- who could possibly be bothered to get out of bed into the chilly morning fog? In that moment, in the drowsy dorms of Xavier Hall, another alarm goes off, and Sammie, already tying her shoes, silences it. She’s beaten her alarm, done some stretching, and can, in fact, be bothered to get out of bed into the chilly morning fog-
She does it everyday.
Samantha Dyer, born and raised in Berwick, Pennsylvania, Ran in all nine meets as a freshman for Seton Hall, picking up four top-20 finishes in the process. Dyer placed 12th at the Cappy Anderson Invitational in Maryland with time of 20:02.2. Dyer ran a personal best 19:25 at the NJIT Invitational, which Seton Hall won, and has raced for Seton Hall at invitationals from Daytona Beach, Florida to the Big East Tournament in Indiana.
In high school, Dyer was a four-year member of the varsity track and cross country teams in her hometown, a Wyoming Valley Conference All-Star in Cross Country from 2014-2016, and a recipient of the Wyoming Valley Conference League Medalist Honors each year of her high school career. Dyer earned three PIAA District 2 Medals and qualified for the Pennsylvania State Championships in 2015 and 2016. Dyer was also a member of the varsity swim team for three years.
Now a sophomore at Seton Hall, she currently has plans to major in Biology, while improving her Spanish, spending time with her friends, and of course, running . Currently the off-season, I spoke with Sammie to learn more about her and what life as one of Seton Hall’s student athletes is like, reflecting on last season and her accomplishments.
How does a Division One Athlete balance school and sports?
“Well, we have practice at 7 AM, and it’s tedious to wake up so early but nice to get it out of the way and focus on class,” Dyer smiles. “Double runs in the fall between classes gives you a break from studying. Cross Country races are only on the weekends, so I miss lots of Fridays, but not as many other days as some of the other sports.”
What about making up the work?
Dyer pauses for a moment, then nods in satisfaction, smiling.
What is your diet like?
“I drink a lot of water, definitely. I always make sure to eat right after practice, whether it be like eggs or toast or stuff like that. I eat lots of pasta and chicken, because I run so much and that burns a lot of calories.”
Why not swimming?
“I did swimming mostly to keep in shape because my school had no indoor track. I swam for seven years. I liked swimming more when I was little because you get to hang in a pool with friends and goof around,” she laughed.
What was it like growing up in Berwick?
“Berwick is definitely a small town, but I really enjoyed growing up there. It was nice to know a lot of people in my town and a lot of them helped me get to where I am today.”
Berwick, for comparison, has a population of about 10,138, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 Population Estimates. South Orange has about 17,000 inhabitants.
Looking back on last season, what were some great moments? What were some not so great moments?
“The Indiana and Daytona Beach trips were pretty great. We have some really great runs, we always run to Turtleback Zoo as a team and it’s great to just work hard with the other girls. Coach always meets us at the zoo and gives us some snacks, and then we run back. What isn’t so great? The workouts are hard, and injuries definitely set you back. I didn’t have any major ones this season (at this moment, two fists could be heard as we knocked on the table) but they definitely can set you back big time.”
What was the best part about racing in Florida?
“We got to go to Sea World!” Sammie smiled as she looked back at her trip.
“I met my friend Ty from high school there while doing warm-ups, that was really cool. I hadn’t seen him for awhile and then all of the sudden I heard him call my name, it was really great to see him. The Girls team won the whole invitational! It was just a great trip.”
What about Indiana?
“That was for the Big East Tournament. Super stiff competition, but a good experience just to be in the same race as some of these girls. That makes us work harder. The girls from Villanova are fast!”
What do you like to do to get in the zone?
“Before the race, I try to focus on the course- what side do I want to be on, where are the hills, stuff to look out for like that, and I try to concentrate and get into the mindset of the race.”
What do you do after a race?
“We wait for all the girls to finish, and then…,” she flashes a sly smile, “we run again. Together,this time just stretching and drinking lots of water.”
Last season Seton Hall had eight of its eleven Women’s Cross Country runners place within the top 35 at the IC4A Cross Country Championships. What helped you and the team run so well on such a big day?
“That was a fun race. It snowed the day before so they changed the course and it was originally really hilly, and then it was taken down to completely flat loops because you couldn’t go into the back, forested part. I went in knowing to take my first mile not too fast because there were two more miles of hills. With the course change, i had to change my pace because it was flat and fast. All of the girls adapted really well.”
What was your fastest time this season?
“I ran a 19:25 at the NJIT race, where Seton Hall won! That was a great day, a good PR and a good performance from the team.”
Your team placed 1st and you placed 15th at the Cappy Anderson Invitational in Maryland. What was it like to help your team to an important victory?
“It means a lot to win an invitational. It showcases how hard we work. Knowing I placed 15th helps me to work harder because I want to help her team score better. I ran well, but I could have done even better.”
Who would play the role of Samantha Dyer in a movie about your life?
Which Living person do you admire most?
“I really admire my coach John Moon, he has accomplished so much in his life and now he is dedicated to making us into the best athletes we can be. He is also incredibly kind.”
Where in the world would you rather be right now?
“Altea, Spain. Sitting on the beach.”