Longhorn athlete

Although Mia Behm has already had two successful years as a Longhorn athlete, the junior from Tyler isn’t focused on her past achievements — she is looking toward new goals.

“There is a lot left for me to try and accomplish,” Behm said. “But I feel like what I have done so far is good because it has given me the confidence to accomplish new goals.”

Both Behm and cross country head coach Steve Sisson say that Behm’s competitive nature and perseverance make her a unique contributor to the 15th-ranked Longhorn team.

“She is not a quiet girl but she brings a quiet intensity to the team,” Sisson said. “She keeps her goals and ambitions to herself and that allows her to keep really focused.”

Behm said a competitive attitude plays a role in every part of her life — from playing the Wii to running a race. Her competitive nature, coupled with her close relationship with her teammates, has helped many of the runners improve. An example of this dynamic is freshman runner Marielle Hall, who has battled with Behm all season for the top spot on the team.

“I enjoy that Marielle is challenging me,” Behm said. “I am competitive, but I’m glad because it is improving both of us.”

Sisson said that Behm has always been an extreme competitor at the team’s meets, but more recently, her spirited attitude has benefited her in practice as well.

The relationship between Behm and Hall has increased the intensity of Behm’s workouts — something Sisson believes will benefit her in the highly competitive meets the team will be facing soon.

“This year I have noticed that Mia and Marielle run side by side, stride by stride almost in every workout,” Sisson said. “What they have done best for each other is to be able to motivate from a training perspective. Mia has never trained as hard as she has this year and that is thanks to Marielle.”

The Longhorns are currently a young team, with many of the top competitors being freshmen. Sisson said this has allowed Behm to step into the leadership role she was meant to fill.
“Mia is quiet in her way of being a leader,” Sisson said. “She brings a consistency, a constancy and a guarantee that she is going to get the job done that the girls can sort of lean on. She has sacrificed and everyone else has to sacrifice.”

Behm, however, credits her teammates for keeping her motivated.

“When you are on a team together and you suffer through pain together you are pretty much required to be friends,” Behm said. “We get along so well, which is something I think we have on other teams.”

Sisson takes some credit for the spirit of camaraderie among his athletes.

“I look for balance, a level of focus and commitment to running but also a fun-loving, positive, almost looseness and confidence that there is in the group of girls,” Sisson said. “Their friendship brings to the table an amazing feel.”

The team is well balanced but also highly competitive. Sisson says each athlete has individual goals, goals that they encourage each other to reach.

Behm hopes this season she will achieve her ultimate goal — becoming an All-American. To accomplish this, a runner must place in the top 40 at the NCAA Championships.

Sisson says he does not typically make goals for individual runners on his team but makes an exception for Behm.

“My basic belief is that Mia is one of the best collegiate runners in the country,” Sisson said. “You will see much better performances from her coming into the Big 12 and regional and national meets — this is the stage that Mia likes.”