Tess Drury ‘27 has led the Saint Michael’s College women’s cross country team to one of their best seasons yet. Drury was awarded North East-10 (NE-10) Rookie of the Week five times and NE-10 Athlete of the Week three times.
Drury broke the St. Michael’s College Athletic Program rookie record by winning an individual event three times and running three of the four fastest 6K times in the program’s history.
In high school, Drury was named the 2022 to 2023 Gatorade Athlete of the Year for cross country in Vermont. She attended Nike Nationals, competing with athletes from all across the country.
“Nike Nationals was one of my favorite memories from racing, I got to meet and run against so many new people and such amazing runners who love the sport as much as I do,” Drury said.
Drury first started running at Mount Mansfield Union High School. Her older brother was on the cross country team, and she joined so she would get a ride home from school instead of taking the bus.
Drury ended up enjoying cross country and continued through high school. She found running to be a gratifying experience. “It’s the satisfaction of putting in the work and getting something out of it, seeing it,” Drury said.
There are many mental and physical obstacles that come with running, Drury explained. “It hurts. Just staying with it, it’s so easy to think ‘I could stop right now,’ like I could, but just keep going. I’ll feel worse if I drop out of a race, everyone is hurting so you just have to make it worth it,” Drury said.
Drury chose to continue her running career at St. Michael’s College because of the team culture.
“I met the team and they were all so nice and Molly [Peters] is such a great coach,” Drury said. “When I met with her she wasn’t just focused on times, which I really liked. The team is really positive and everyone supports each other, it doesn’t matter how you do. They are still supportive and kind.”
Pre-game routines are an important element of the team’s camaraderie, Drury said. “Before every race we do deep breathing together, just to calm down and I love that,” Drury said. “It’s so stressful on the start line and doing those deep breaths with them makes it feel like we are all connected.”
Aside from team rituals, there are a few rituals Drury does individually. She eats the same breakfast every morning and writes “run happy” on her hand to remind herself not to get too stressed.
On Nov. 4, Drury competed at the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) East Regionals. This race determined whether or not she would attend the NCAA Division 2 Championships.
“I was nervous, I didn’t do as well as I wanted to and now it’s stressful just waiting because it is all out of my hands,” Drury said after the race.
In the following days, Drury found out she qualified for the national championships off an at-large bid.
“I’m super excited for it, it’s such a great opportunity that I really wasn’t expecting,” Drury said.
An at-large bid is when a runner does not make automatic qualification, but they have the opportunity to qualify based on previous races throughout the regular season.
Drury will be the third athlete from St. Michael’s College to attend the NCAA Division 2 Championship, and the second woman after Chloe Boutelle in 2013.
“I guess [I feel the pressure] a little bit,” Drury said. “But you just have to remember it’s all just one big team and if someone else on the team didn’t have a great race, I wouldn’t be like ‘I’m so mad at them they messed this up for us,’ and I just have to remember that no one is thinking that about me either.”
Molly Peters, head coach of St. Michael’s College cross country and Nordic ski teams, expressed her excitement over Drury’s results this season, as well as the whole team’s.
“She’s so driven and you can see it every day in practice,” Peters said.
She listens really well, she does the workout exactly like she is supposed to, and she’s always right on target for mileage. She’s the most humble person I’ve probably ever met. It’s her thing that makes her get out there everyday, she wants it, she wants to win, she loves to win, you can tell, you can see it.”
Cross country captain Katie Culliton ‘24 said, “Just by how she acts you wouldn’t know she’s the fastest runner on the team, she is proud of what she does but doesn’t flaunt it. Tess is never going to be like ‘my race was great, I got first!’ Which is awesome, she could say that, but she always says ‘Oh, it went well, how about you?’ “It’s little things like that that make her a really supportive teammate and humble athlete.”
Drury will compete at the NCAA Division 2 Championships in Joplin, Mo. on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 11a.m. EST.