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By Emma Grimes '18 / Athletic Communications Assistant
Lilly Smith '19 was fast during her time on the Covenant women's cross country and track teams. Some might even say she was fast as a cheetah.
Instead of showing off her prowess on the trails or the track, Smith is now learning to care for God's creatures as she pursues a career in the veterinary field.
After graduating from Covenant with a B.A. in biology, Smith worked as a vet tech for a year. She is currently in her first year as a veterinary medical student at North Carolina State University.
Once she completes vet school, Smith hopes to work at the interface between human, animal, and environmental health.
"I recently started veterinary school, which was a goal I worked towards throughout all of college," said Smith. "I have no doubt that being an athlete played a big part in my journey to getting into a competitive program: from learning how to be disciplined and work hard, having a supportive team to lift me up, teaching me to be a leader, growing my self-confidence, and giving me the chance to practice not giving up when I fail."
During her time on the mountain, Smith was a standout student-athlete and one of the best runners to put on a Scots uniform.
Smith holds the top seven 6K times in program history, with a top time of 22:34.8 which she ran at the NCAA Championship race. She became the first Covenant runner to qualify for the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships when she earned a spot in 2018. She placed 104th out of the 279 runners with a personal and program-best time.
Smith was also the first female runner in program history to earn NCAA South/Southeast All-Region honors (2018) and holds the top two record times for the two-mile race (top time of 12:42.6).
In her four years on the cross country team (2015-18), she racked up several conference honors as well, including back-to-back USA South Runner of the Year awards in 2017 and 2018. Smith was also a two-time first team All-USA South member and a three-time All-Sportsmanship award winner. On top of that, she earned USA South Runner of Week honors an astounding nine times.
Smith also competed on the inaugural Covenant track teams and holds the top spot for the 5,000 meter and the top five spots for the 1,500 meter in the record books. She was the 2019 USA South 1,500 meter champion and earned All-USA South honors that year. She was awarded USA South Track Athlete of the Week twice and was a part of relay program records in the 4x400, 4x800, and DMR.
Smith didn't just set the pace out on the course, though. She also was a trailblazer in the classroom, earning USA South All-Academic honors three times and USTFCCCA All-Academic honors twice. As a senior, Smith was Covenant's honoree for the prestigious NCAA Woman of the Year Award.
She credits the academics at Covenant and the experiences she had with helping her get where she is today -- both professionally and personally.
"Covenant definitely prepared me academically for where I am now, but I think my time there shaped my outlook on life even more," continued Smith. "I had some low points with both running and school and while those challenges were really hard at the time, I believe that they have helped me learn how to persevere."
Smith looks back at her time as a Scot fondly and is grateful for all the memories she has from being a member of the cross country program:
"I have so many favorite memories as an athlete at Covenant, but the very best involve team dinners, late-night post-meet bus rides, and numerous group runs. My favorite trips with the team were going to Disney World and flying to our regional meet one year in Virginia.
"The support and encouragement of my team is something I don't think I'll ever forget, along with the lifelong friends I made through running."
There is no doubt that Smith made her mark on this mountain and on the record books. However, she is most thankful for the mark that Covenant has left on her and that this place taught her how to trust in the one who is holding it all.
"At Covenant, I learned (though I often have to relearn it) that hard work does not always lead to the results that we think it should; but God is holding everything in His hands."
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