Oklahoma cross country runners Belle Wallace and Isabella Rose are in their fifth season as teammates, a relationship that began in high school.
Wallace, a senior with the Sooners, and Rose, an OU junior, are two of three Norman natives on the cross country team. The duo attended Norman North High School, where they began a friendship that would carry into their collegiate careers.
SoonerSports.com caught up with Wallace and Rose about their Norman roots, staying in their hometown and the friendship they've built throughout the years.
Q: Have you always lived in Norman?
Isabella Rose: "I was born in Texas but moved here as a baby, so I've grown up here in Norman."
Belle Wallace: "I moved around quite a bit as a kid. I call Mississippi home, but I moved to Norman when I was a junior in high school, and that's when we started running together at Norman North."
Q: Did either of you grow up a Sooner fan?
IR: "I think I have just because I've always lived in Norman. My brother actually played hockey for OU for a little while, so it was never football, but it was more like hockey and the school just because that's where my brother and sisters went."
BW: "My dad's an '89 alum, so it wasn't like he instilled, ‘You have to be a Sooner,' but it was always kind of an underlying assumption. But, we lived in Mississippi, so there was no way we would be Sooners like my dad thought. But, my brother graduated in 2016, and I'm graduating this year, so it's like this dream my dad has always had but never thought it would be real. So, I guess you could say I've always been a Sooner fan."
Q: Why did you pick OU?
IR: "I'm pretty close to home, so I didn't really want to leave because I'm so close to my family. I came here and the facilities were amazing. I had Belle and another teammate from high school who were my best friends who were already on the team, so I just felt like this was my home already and just comfortable, so it was easy to make that decision."
BW: "Same with Bella, I love the facilities. The coach at the time, Jason Dunn, I loved him. He's the reason why I came here — him and the girls. I was really close with the girls. We were a young team, and I knew that I could come in and possibly be a contributing factor, like be in the top seven, and try to grow with the program. That's what drew me here, and good academics — just amazing everything."
Q: Are you glad you stayed in your hometown?
"I couldn't imagine a better running program or better friends or a better fit for me."
– Isabella Rose
IR: "Yes, I am. I couldn't imagine a better running program or better friends or a better fit for me. My parents' house, I can get there in 15 minutes, but also it's far enough to where I feel like I'm on my own. I'm really glad I stayed. I think I wouldn't be nearly as happy being far."
BW: "Same. I hadn't lived here for my whole entire life, so I was like, ‘O.K., it's still different.' I live not even a mile away from my parents, and I still felt like I was out at college. They kind of let me do my own thing. They didn't hover or anything, but my mom will text me and say, ‘I'm making this for dinner,' and I'm like, ‘Oh yeah, I'm going home for that.' It's been great, and I haven't regretted it. I've thought about that before, the ‘What if?' But, I wouldn't have imagined it any other way. I love it here."
Q: What has that been to be teammates for this long?
IR: "It's cool to see each other's progress. Not only are we teammates, we're also really great friends and just like sisters. It's really nice to have her. It's almost like a comforting, peaceful vibe whenever we're around each other because we're used to running with each other for so long that I think it just kind of puts it at ease whenever we have each other during races and workouts."
"It's definitely been something very special... through all the change, I've had this friend stay constant."
– Belle Wallace
BW: "It's been fun. Getting to see how we were in high school, I got to watch Isabella grow into this amazing young woman and also into this amazing runner. It's fun to reminisce, like, ‘Remember when we ran what we just ran in this workout for a race in high school?' It's funny. And, when I look over and see that I have Bella here, it's like, ‘O.K., I'm good.' It's definitely been something very special. If I had gone far away, I'm sure we would still be friends, but it's just great having something constant, to stay the same, even through a coaching change. Change sucks sometimes — it ended up being good in the long run — but it's nice through all the change, I've had this friend stay constant. Even in high school, whenever something would go wrong, I had this person there."
Q: Favorite place on campus?
IR: "I really like our main training room. It's my favorite place to go because I love our trainers and there are always friends in there. It's fun to hang out."
BW: "I like taking naps and studying in the O Club."
Q: Favorite spot on Campus Corner?
BW: "I like Tea Café and Stella Rae's to shop."
Q: Favorite local restaurant?
IR: "Scratch. Scratch for days."
BW: "The Garage or Amazonia. Amazonia has really good Venezuelan food."
Q: Favorite OU tradition?
IR: "Football gamedays. There's tailgating, and you're with all the athletes in the athlete section, so that's really fun."
BW: "I guess my favorite OU tradition is just gameday. There's nothing like gamedays. Football's pretty big here, obviously. Just being out there for the kickoff and the hype video is awesome."
The Sooners are set to begin postseason competition on Oct. 28 at the Big 12 Cross Country Championship in Round Rock, Texas.