Rosary Academy’s Cross-Country and Track star says her faith fuels her

By Jenelyn Russo     12/19/2016

Jennifer Lutfi was inspired to begin her running career by watching those who do it best—Olympic athletes.

“When I was younger, I always loved watching the Olympics,” says Lutfi. “I loved watching the runners run around the track and thought that was something I wanted to do. I always watched the marathon with my parents, so that really made me want to run.”

The senior cross country runner for Rosary Academy has learned over time that the path to success in running lies in the mental aspect of the sport.

“A lot of it is mental,” says Lutfi. “You need to tell yourself it’s not that hard. You just need to do your race and do your best.”

The four-year varsity team member also runs distance events as a part of the Royals track team, including the 800-meter, 1-mile and 3200-meter races. The bond she shares with her running teammates will be missed as she moves on from Rosary next spring.

“We’re all very close, so I think I’m going to miss that next year,” says the 17-year-old. “The all-girls environment is so comforting, and I love everyone who surrounds me.”

Rosary’s head cross country coach, Jen Murphy, sees how Lutfi has embraced the role of captain for the team and has used her leadership skills to come into her own this season.

“This year, Jen emerged as a leader and a front-runner for the team,” says Murphy. “She was Rosary’s number one runner for three of our eight races where she pushed her pace beyond her comfort zone. Jen not only participated on the cross-country team, but she lived the cross-country lifestyle. She gave 100% effort at every single practice for 22 weeks. Jen is an athlete who is truly dedicated to her sport and her team.”

Aside from running, Lutfi serves her campus community through several clubs and organizations such as ASB & Student Council, Campus Ministries, National Honor Society (NHS), California Scholarship Federation (CSF) and the Lifesavers Club. She feels a strong connection to her Catholic faith both as a student and an athlete.

“I love my Catholic faith,” says Lutfi. “I feel like I’m very strong in it. In class, I’m not afraid to talk about my faith. We always have a prayer before [each] race. We know that we’ve prepared hard, but we know that God’s always there with us and he can help us.”

The Yorba Linda resident has had a great support system in the sport between her coach, teammates and parents. She hopes to continue her running career in college as well as study education or occupational therapy.

“I’ve always enjoyed helping people, so I want to do that in my career,” says Lutfi. “I’m really excited to see what next year has to offer me.”