A lot of great athletes have competed on the Hilltop but very few have accomplished as much as fourth-year distance runner Ruby Smee.
Smee is one the most accomplished athletes in the history of the cross country and track and field program at USF. She is the first person to consecutively qualify for the NCAA Track and Field National Championships in school history and holds the school record for the 3,000 meter run with a time of 9:04.93. She was also named All-American in 2021 for her 34th place performance in the NCAA cross country championship, and received the Anne Dolan Award from USF for her 2021-2022 season, an award honoring the female student athlete of the year at the school. Those are just a few of the many achievements she has racked up in the two years she has been eligible to compete at USF.
Smee first came to USF in 2019, but was ineligible to compete because of the school credit requirements the NCAA has, meaning she was forced to redshirt, forgoing the season but saving her year of eligibility. Then with the COVID-19 pandemic preventing any chance of her competing in 2020, Smee was already halfway through her undergrad before she had the opportunity to race.
“When I found out that I wasn’t allowed to race at all, it was really hard, because that’s why I came here… but looking back, I think it’s been a good thing because I was able to mature a bit before I ended up competing,” said Smee.
Running has always been a part of Smee’s life. “Both my parents have run since they were teenagers and they still run to this day… so I just naturally fell into it,” she said. Although she had a lot of success running in high school, what made her fall in love with the sport is how it builds community. “[Running] is really social. I’ve met a lot of my friends, especially here [at USF], through it… You can be really vulnerable with people on those [long runs], and get to know each other really well,” said Smee.
Growing up in Tasmania, Australia, Smee “took a shot in the dark” when deciding to come to USF. “When I moved here, I’d never been to the United States before… it was a big risk,” Smee said to the Foghorn. Thanks to the diversity of San Francisco and its unique landscape, the move was not as much of a culture shock as Smee expected. Her only surprise was how intense academics are in the United States, “[School] just seems smaller scale and less intense in Australia,” she said. Smee has been able to adjust, as she was named a member of the all-academic team by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association in 2022.
Smee hopes to run professionally after her time in college. She emphasized that as long as she is consistent and continues to push towards new PRs, she believes she can accomplish her professional running goals and get a chance to compete in the Olympics. Smee is graduating this semester but with two more years of collegiate eligibility, she still has plenty of time before entering the pro scene.