CLAREMONT, Calif. -- The diminutive Alana Enabnit has the perfect skater’s physique, which is why she chose that sport over all else at the age of five. It is something she thought she would be doing well into college and she surprised herself when she chose running over her first passion.

Now the shock is mostly on her opponents. The Wartburg freshman has consistently defeated stronger and more experienced opponents and has dominated the Division III sections of the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

Enabnit won the 10,000 meters on Thursday and is a favorite in Saturday’s 5,000 meters. In her first year she is already distancing herself from alumni in what has traditionally been a strong Track and Field college.

“As I got more into it I started to really love it,” Enabnit said. “My junior and senior year in high school I found my love for it even more as I learned how to train for it. Now it has definitely become my passion.”

Her entrance into long distance running was mostly by accident. Enabnit was a figure skater, first. She wanted to do another sport when she got to high school and her coach gave her a blunt assessment.

“I thought if I did track it would keep me in shape for skating, even though skating wasn’t an all year round sport,” she said. “My coach didn’t think I was a very fast sprinter so he stuck me in an 800 and 1,500. I did okay at it.”

But in high school running was more of a hobby than a passion. Figure skating had ruled her life for nearly a decade and she was committed to it.

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“My parents and I were on the road four to five days a week driving an hour and a half to go to my coach,” Enabnit said. “A lot of times we woke up at 4:30 in the morning so I could get to skating by 5:15 at our local rink because that is one of the few times available to practice.”

Everything revolved around skating then, even her school work.

“Homework was not homework it was carwork,” she said. “A lot of my life was focused on skating. It’s been weird how my focus on skating has turned to running.”

The focus definitely changed right before she entered her senior year in high school, which was a surprise to Enabnit.

“If you would have asked me before my senior year where my skating was going to go I would have said I was going to try and continue my skating in college and maybe be a professional,” Enabnit said. “But as my cross country season went along my passions changed more to running. Not that I didn’t want to keep skating but I saw my journey heading more towards running.”

She hasn’t looked back from that decision, instead embracing running with the same enthusiasm she had for skating and found there were parallels between the two.

“There is a lot of stamina needed for both,” she said. “A long program in skating is probably like a 3,000 meter steeplechase. The mental aspect figure skating requires so much determination and perseverance. You have to overcome trials and that has really helped me as a runner recognize what it takes and how hard I have to work.”

It as exactly that mindset that allowed her to compete and defeat some of the women who were in Division I schools at the Drake Relays earlier this year. Enabnit and teammate, Laura Sigmund, were the only Division III runners in the 5,000 meters. Sigmund finished second, recording the fifth fastest time in NCAA Division III history, while Enabnit finished third, recording the seventh fastest time.

“That was an awesome experience,” Enabnit said. “Honestly I didn’t know what to expect. I just went there and my coach was like today is the day you can take some risks. You can go out harder than you normally do and you are going to hang on and that’s what the race turned out to be.”

With three years remaining in her collegiate career, Enabnit isn’t sure what is going to happen, but she does know running has become her passion.

“I got into running a little late, but the process wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be,” Enabnit said. “I really enjoyed learning how to be a runner. I’m blessed and wasn’t expecting anything like what has happened to me.”