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Majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in international and global studies, Amy Ankli wants to be a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, but right now she’s focused on running.

Running cross country and track for UCF — her hometown college.

Originally from Chuluota, a small city in Seminole County, Ankli made her running debut alongside her twin sister, Sara, at Hagerty High School in Oviedo.

“As much as I loved Hagerty and Oviedo, I wanted to get as far away. And then last minute it was like, ‘Oh, I think I’ll end up at UCF,’” the senior said with a reminiscent giggle. “Hagerty is like 60 seconds from UCF, down Lockwood.”

With the women’s cross country team set to kick of its season on Sept. 4 at the University of Tampa Classic, the senior will be a crucial asset for the 2015-16 season.

Her former high school coach, Jay Getty, shares a bond with Ankli and her siblings as he’s coached them in track and cross country for over 20 years.

“In all, four Ankli siblings have shared a running bond with our staff in the city of Oviedo in a career that spans 1991 to present,” her former Hagerty cross country coach said.

In high school, Ankli left an impression on the team, becoming Hagerty’s all-time record holder in the 5k, 1600-meter and 3200-meter.

Although the former district champion was rooted in Orlando athletics, she was unsure if she would run for UCF until being recruited during her senior year of high school.

Though the decision to come to UCF was easy, her freshman year proved to be a challenge.

“When I was a freshman, I definitely questioned my decision,” she said. “There was a lot of points freshman year where I wasn’t running well and I didn’t know if I was happy here and if I should have gone further from home.”

Eventually, she learned to adjust to the new runners surrounding her by utilizing their strengths as motivation to become better.

“I run with people who are pushing me. I’ve grown, not just strength-wise, but I’m mentally tougher. My team is a lot more important to me now,” said Ankli, who earned a spot on UCF’s all-time top-10 performances list in 2013.

UCF cross country’s assistant coach Johnny Gray said he anticipates that Ankli will be a part of the top-five scorers this season, and will prove to be a stronger runner than last year when she was recovering from a stress reaction injury.

“I think this year she’s going to shine,” Gray said. “She’s going to be really great for us.”

As fast as she takes off from the running mark, the burgundy oval track will soon be a distant memory.

On the cusp of finding her confidence as a student-athlete, Ankli will be graduating next fall and proving her finesse in a completely different field.

This season, she will put her degree to the test as she helps manage and write runners’ blogs for track and cross country, creating a more dynamic and interactive way to follow the team.

“If I do end up in sports broadcasting, I want to be covering the Olympics,” Ankli said. “I hope my teammate Anne-Marie [Blaney] is in the Olympics and I can cover her one day. That would be my dream.”

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Shanae Hardy is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Email her at ShanaeH@CentralFloridaFuture.com

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