Anna Rupp continues family legacy by pledging to run in UK
When Anna Rupp was still an aspiring distance runner, she went to Kentucky Horse Park and saw her future in motion.
Rupp went to see the top cross-country racers in the Southeastern Conference compete in the league championship competition and made a resolution that she would one day be them. It became Rupp’s goal to compete as a Division I runner, in one of the country’s most prestigious conferences, and against top athletes.
It’s a dream now fulfilled for Rupp, a former Lexington Christian Academy star runner, who this month announced her commitment to Kentucky’s cross-country and track programs.
And by achieving a lifelong goal in the UK, Rupp helps continue his family’s synonymous relationship with the university, city and state they call home.
Anna is the great-granddaughter of Adolph Rupp, the former Kentucky men’s basketball coach whose last name graces one of college basketball’s most iconic arenas and one of the landmarks. most famous in the state.
“Since I was really young I’ve kind of realized how important Kentucky is to the state as a whole and it’s truly an honor to wear ‘Kentucky’ on my chest because it’s had so much impact for Lexington, “Rupp told the Herald-Leader. “I know all of my Lexington friends love UK so it’s really fun to be able to put it on and represent it because it’s so much bigger than me.
Before Rupp could make the choice to pursue her athletic career in Kentucky, she had to leave the place that had been such a big part of her identity.
Rupp stood out in the LCA, winning back-to-back KHSAA Cross Country Class A state titles in 2018 and 2019 as a freshman and sophomore.
She also won the 3,200-meter state title as a freshman at the 2019 KHSAA Class A Track Championship.
“IIn all fairness, she had a really good job, good training, good practices, but nothing that stood out, ”said Tom Stickel, LCA cross country and track coach. “But when she lined up for a race you knew you were going to get top performance and she always wanted to race against the best competitors. The longer the race, the better she ran.
But then came the challenges associated with being a thriving athlete in the presence of the coronavirus.
Rupp was unable to compete on the track in his second season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As she tried to simulate this season on the track as best she could, she admitted that it was difficult to keep working without the promise of real races.
As a junior in fall 2020, Rupp stopped in the middle of the state championship cross country race and did not complete the event.
Rupp was then injured in all but one of the races during her junior track season.
It all ended in a junior year without as much success as Rupp said she wanted.
“Running is a very difficult sport and it’s not always easy to stick with it,” Rupp said. “You might have months where you just don’t feel your best, you don’t run the best, you might have a season where you don’t improve. And I had a season like this and it definitely makes it hard to stick with it. “
“I think she knows when she’s healthy. . . she can accomplish a lot of things, ”said Stickel. “She is very determined to be at a high level.
So she made a change.
‘It was good’
Rupp left LCA and is now at IMG Academy – a well-known sports training boarding school in Bradenton, Fla. – in his senior year, a decision Rupp called “absolutely the best decision I’ve made”.
“The reason I went to IMG honestly was to experience something completely new,” Rupp said. “I had grown up in Lexington, had been to school in Lexington all my life and when the opportunity arose to go to IMG, to go to boarding school, to develop more independence and well. sure it would be in the Sunshine State which was lovely I absolutely jumped on it because I wanted a whole new experience.
It took leaving home for Rupp to realize what he missed most about Kentucky, Lexington, and his family’s distinct ties to the UK.
“I miss being close to the UK. Honestly, I love football games, I love basketball games. Honestly, I just missed being close to Kentucky and being in Lexington, ”Rupp said. “I love the city. Really, I kinda messed it all up and can’t wait to be back.
While Rupp said “no one bleeds bluer than me” she said her absence from IMG Academy allowed her to assess the UK as a sporting destination more objectively after being contacted by Hakon devries, which trains the British long-distance runners.
Rupp returned to Lexington for a weekend in October and met Devries, along with his parents, to learn more about the UK as a program.
“I was able to just focus on the program, listen to Coach Devries and the way he trains his athletes and really focus on Kentucky athletics,” Rupp said. ” NOTnothing else. Not who in my family had been there, what’s my story with that. I’m a runner so focus on the track program and the cross country program.
Rupp said she told Devries she would be verbally committing to Kentucky in October, just before leaving Lexington again to return to IMG.
Since then, not a day has passed without her remembering that her long-held goal will soon come true.
“I think when I put on the Kentucky jersey I didn’t know it was normal,” Rupp said. “It felt like home and I didn’t feel like I was saying ‘oh, that’s weird’ or ‘that’s not right.’ It was good and I’m so excited.
This story was originally published January 11, 2022 10:05 am.