Annie Fuller is a two-sport athlete and a long-distance running sensation at Michigan State University.
Coming out on the starting block for her freshman year, Fuller favored track, avoiding cross-country for the sole dislike of doing anything more than those four easy laps around the track.
“I just thought it was too long for me,” Fuller said. “It was so much farther than the mile, or the 800.”
But, as her years in Spartan territory started to pass, she found herself having fun with those extended distances and finding success rather quickly. That is until her junior year, when every runner’s nightmare became her reality: Annie Fuller tore her meniscus.
In her junior year, Fuller couldn’t compete at all. She said idly watching her team race was challenging, but she admitted it was also a good learning experience.
“I was able to find myself outside of my sport and realize that running is not going to be there for me all the time,” she said.
Fuller said she received love and support from her teammates through her battle with injury, forming stronger bonds with the ladies she shared the lanes with.
“I’m part of a cohesive team,” Fuller said. “I’m not just an athlete by myself.”
She had her meniscus repaired around November 2017. After 18 months of rest and rehab, Fuller started running again.
Though it was a struggle at first, Fuller started her recovery slow by re-learning basic physical activities like swimming and biking. By the summer of the next year, Fuller had managed to work herself back into shape.
“At this point, I would say I’m near my 100%,” Fuller said. “My knee does flare up here and there, but it’s nothing that keeps me from competing.”
Recently, Fuller took part in and dominated the Spartan Invitational, securing third place and tying with her teammate India Johnson for a time of 21 minutes and 12.6 seconds. Fuller finished only a tenth of a second from her teammate Jeralyn Poe, who timed first place at 21 minutes and 12.5 seconds.
The three girls crossed the finish line together, with pride overflowing in Fuller’s heart. If she had to pick, Fuller said that over the course of her collegiate running career, the 2019 Spartan Invitational headlines the top of her list in most memorable races.
“When I crossed the line, I was like ‘Wow, we are going to be so good this year,’” she said.
Another recent invitational Fuller attended was Panorama Farms, placing second and beating her Spartan Invitational time, shaving almost an entire minute off her previous time. She insists that, even though they still have work to do to get where they want to be, this race was a really good step forward for her and the rest of the women.
“We’re all just so happy and excited for each other when we perform,” Fuller said. “It’s been all about the team ... and it has been a really fun ride.”
Overall, Fuller said this season has been exciting and that the group works well together to bring home wins for the school.
Before she graduates, Annie Fuller has a couple goals she still wishes to accomplish. She thinks, with no doubt, that the women’s cross-country team can be really good this season. In fact, she acknowledges that it’s her other sport that seeks improvement.
“We’ve always struggled in track.”
She envisions that the program will take its desired step forward if all of the different event groups learn new ways to unite. Fuller said she yearns to reach out to those team members she doesn’t normally communicate with and build new relationships with them, whether they’ve been there for years or if it’s their first day on MSU’s track.
“Cross-country has been a really great addition to my life,” Fuller said.