Meet XC’s Stephanie Berger

South Carolina graduate runner brings experience to Georgia State. Photo by Ralph Hernandez | The Signal
South Carolina graduate runner brings experience to Georgia State. Photo by Ralph Hernandez | The Signal
South Carolina graduate runner brings experience to Georgia State.
Photo by Ralph Hernandez | The Signal

 

Say hello to Stephanie Berger, one of the newest members to join the Georgia State cross-country team. Although, she may be new to the campus, she may be the most experienced runner they have on this year’s roster.

Berger ran at the University of South Carolina (USC) as an undergraduate competing in the competitive Southeastern Conference (SEC)  performing at a high level. She began her career at USC as a walk-on, but due to her hard work on the field and in the classroom, she eventually won her first competition in South Carolina’s home opener in 2014 clocking 19:00.65.

During her time on the team, Berger obtained a 3.79 cumulative GPA.  She was considered to be among the top two runners at South Carolina in 2014 along with former teammate Anna Todd.

While at South Carolina, she finished in top 10 three times, and won one of her races during her 2014 campaign.  Berger did not start running cross-country until the beginning of her junior year in high school. She and friends joked about her participating, but now look at how far she has come.

Panther Life

The Ohio native is enrolled into graduate school at Georgia State, but while doing so she will still compete on the cross-country team. School is her number one priority and explains how she can made it to Atlanta.

“Honestly it was a very last minute decision,” Berger said. “I had a specific graduate program that I was pursuing in mind, and that narrowed it down to a certain
number of schools.”

Studying information analytics in her graduate program, Berger considered not going to graduate school right away after her undergrad, but was informed she would not have an extra year of eligibility to run if she had not.

Berger’s experience competing in the SEC

Berger saif the majority of rituals and routines are similar here at Georgia State, but said the competition and pressure at South Carolina is the totally different at
Georgia State.

“A lot of it is similar at Carolina as it is to here,” Berger said. “Something I’ve had to adjust to is the team is a lot bigger in South Carolina, then it is here. The number of runners at Georgia State have nothing to do with the athletics department, but because of Title IX and
other resources.”

The Ohio native does think all of her goals can be achieved at Georgia State, just with less pressure.

“Competing in the SEC, I think there’s definitely a lot more competition and there’s a lot more pressure to compete at higher level and pursue higher goals,” Berger said.

Chris England Big on Berger

Before the season, cross-country head coach Chris England was asked who could potentially be the next elite runner after Sun Belt champion Hannah Stefanoff.

“Transfer Stephanie Berger has proven to be the team’s current No. 1 runner,” England said.

Berger’s maturity and experience from competing three years in the SEC should help guide our freshmen and give Georgia State a boost in the team scoring.

“I’m honored that he would say that, I guess I could see that I sort of due have that responsibility,” Berger said. “I think it is very helpful that I have had experience competing in the SEC. Although both [SEC and Sun Belt] conferences are competitive, but the SEC is extremely competitive. Me having the ability to compete there has given me the ability to become a more competitive runner. I think that could put in a position where I could help lead everybody on the team this.”

Becoming a Leader 

At this point in her career, Berger feels fearless and willing to do anything she can to push her teammates and herself. She believes this will help her as a leader to motivate her teammates and to lead by example.

“I’m not afraid of competition and now having that experience I am not afraid to test myself,” Berger said. “I’m not afraid to go out in a race to see how far I can withstand because I know right now [that] is not the focus, the end of the season for bigger competitions is the focus. Right now it is about testing yourself.”

Getting to know her 

teammates.

As several of her teammates are from various parts of the world, she thought it would be a cool idea to show her roommates the fine cuisines of American fast
food restaurants.

“We have a girl from Mexico and two girls here from Spain,” she said. One is my roommate and a lot of things we have been trying to show her here are the highlights of American cuisines in American fast-food.”

Berger has been the escort to fine restaurants like Waffle House, Chipotle and Dairy Queen. Preferably the ones not located in Spain, Berger explained.

The Mishaps of becoming an Atlanian  

“I was so excited when I first got here,” Berger said. It was definitely a step from Columbus [South Carolina]. Although, I did have a run-in with a homeless guy, he took my chicken sandwich. He asked what’s in my box and I said left-overs, so he said can I have them and
I said sure.”

Berger knows the end of her college running career is a season away, but still has goals she wants to conquer. Berger is looking to run in the 17 minute range in the 5k. She understands it may be difficult to pursue in cross-country opposed to track, but that is her tangible goal for the season.

“Any college runner dreams about running in the 16 minute range, so I think that would be a perfect way to finish my career,” Berger said.

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