An ultra-competitor, taking a year off from racing was not easy for Peyton Sippy.

Yet that was exactly what the former Janesville Craig standout runner did when a bum right ankle forced her to miss her freshman season in cross country and track and field at the University of Wisconsin.

Sippy, a 2018 Craig grad, returned this season to UW’s cross country team and helped the Badgers qualify for the NCAA Division I Championships where the team placed seventh. Sippy finished 156th overall out of 300 runners, but that was irrelevant to her. Just being back competing at a high level was her main goal coming into her redshirt freshman season.

“Mentally, it was really difficult not racing my freshman year because that was something I had wanted and had been preparing for all my life,” Sippy said. “But I just couldn’t get my ankle where it needed to be. I sprained it three different times.

“But not being able to compete also made me work that much harder to come back, because I had to prove to myself that I still belonged at this level.”

Sippy—the 2017 WIAA Division 1 state champion in cross country and the 2018 state champion in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs at the state track and field meet—finally felt good enough to run late last spring.

She logged 62 to 65 miles running a week last summer to get back in peak shape and was easily one of the top seven runners for UW heading into the 2019 season.

Sippy competed in five meets this season, with a 39th-place at the Big Ten meet and an NCAA Regional meet her best finishes.

Wisconsin finished second in the Big Ten and was third at the regional meet to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Sippy said the course in Terre Haute was very difficult because of heavy rain and treacherous terrain.

“We ran in almost five inches of mud it seemed like,” Sippy said. “There were times when I stepped and felt the mud up to my ankles.

“And it was really weird because I feel like I blinked and we were at the 1K mark and when I blinked again, we were at the 5K mark.

“But just being out there with 300 other runners and looking over right next to me and seeing my teammates made it all worthwhile. Being with them on the road was so much fun, whether it was watching a movie together the night before or just hanging out. It taught me so much on how to prepare and get myself ready for the next day’s race.”

Sippy will continue to train this winter as she readies herself for her freshman season on UW’s track and field team.

The indoor track and field season officially begins for the Badgers with the two-day Larry Wieczorek Invitational on Jan. 17 and 18. The outdoor season begins April 3.

Her right ankle is close to 100%, but Sippy said she still favors it a little bit and has trouble fully pushing off on it.

She said she will continue to train hard and run with a purpose.

“I have to keep moving forward,” Sippy said. “I know I haven’t reached my full potential yet.

“As long as I stay focused and realize that my hard work really does pay off, hopefully, the best is yet to come.”