Falcon senior looks to make most of senior year

Brad Frank and Brad Frank

Andrea Pereira de Almeida has finally found her stride as a member of BG’s women’s cross country team.

After a junior season full of personal bests, this year the senior captain is ready to see what level of success she can conclude her career at.

Last season, Pereira de Almeida set career personal bests in 3K, 5K, and 6K runs after she was limited in competition the previous two seasons due to problems with asthma.

She couldn’t breathe while running, and since she can’t control her asthma, it was tough to have the confidence to train at the level she wanted to train.

During her first two seasons at BG she participated in just eight of a possible 14 meets. Returning to competition on a regular basis was a matter of time, Pereira de Almeida said.

Last season she returned to competition full-time. Pereira de Almeida admitted that she performed better last season than she did during her successful career at Bowling Green High School, where she was a member of three state championship teams.

When she was a junior in high school, she learned she had asthma.

‘The keys to overcoming my problems with asthma were slowing my breathing, concentrating more and not focusing on how much running and breathing hurt,’ she said.

She isn’t bitter about not being able to compete in every meet. Instead, she is optimistic about this coming season and excited to see how much she can improve from last season, especially with the level of success she is having.

‘When I’m running well, I try to keep the momentum,’ she said. ‘And even though I can’t control my asthma, I’m going to keep trying to improve when I’m running well.’

Despite her setting new career personal bests, she knows the women’s team can do better than last season.

‘I reached a new level in running, and I couldn’t have done that without my teammates and my coaches,’ she said. ‘But this season, ideally, as a team we’d like to finish in the top three at conference.’

The Falcons finished fifth at the Mid-American Conference championship last season.

She has noticed that her teammates, especially those returning, are very focused at practice and dedicated to what they’re doing.

She said it’s evident that everyone worked really hard over the summer.

‘Practices are going really well. I know if everyone stays healthy, we can be a really good team,’ she said. ‘We can contend at the top of the MAC.’

Pereira de Almeida walked on to the team as a freshman after being influenced by a good friend and former high school teammate who was a teammate of hers until last season at BG.

So she had some familiarity with BG cross country even before she enrolled.

In high school, she was a teammate of coach Cami Wells’ brother Brad, who is now an assistant coach at BG, and she met Wells several times when she was young and got to know her even better as a senior in high school through her friend.

Pereira de Almeida said she loves how personable her coach is.

‘She coaches when you need to be pushed, but she knows when to let off,’ Pereira de Almeida said. ‘She’s really good about that.’

This season being her last, Pereira de Almeida is ultimately curious to see whether she can reach her potential in her last competitive season in cross country.

‘I’ve got nothing to lose,’ she said. ‘I’m excited to build on what I did last season, and this season I want to get the most out of what I can do.’