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Big dream brings Swede to Little Rock

Submitted by Matt Johnson on September 23, 2010 – 12:58 am2 Comments

Courtesy of

Sanna Mustonen is a freshman runner from Sweden on the women’s cross-country team. Of running, Mustonen said, “My goal is to have fun.”

Mustonen has been running since she was 10-years-old, and her dream has been the same from the very beginning. “Since I started running, it has been my dream to come to America and go to college,” she said.

Staying home was not really an option for Mustonen if she wanted to continue running. “In Sweden, it’s more academic. You can’t do both,” she said.

So how does a woman from just outside of Stockholm find her way to Arkansas?  “I looked at SMU, Nevada and Manhattan College,” she said, but her name eventually found its way to UALR cross-country coach Milton Williams. After exchanging e-mails and a few phone calls, Mustonen ultimately chose UALR because the training regimen was the most similar to her training back home.

Mustonen chose UALR without having ever seen it, and without having even been to the United States before.  What would urge someone to come to a school and a country, neither of which they have ever seen? “It was my dream,” she said. “I wanted to take a big life step.”

As one might expect, Arkansas is a bit different from Sweden. Mustonen said her biggest shock was the weather. “It was so hot,” she said. “At the first training, I couldn’t breathe.”

Mustonen did find one thing she liked almost immediately. “Everybody here is so nice. Everybody really wanted to help me with everything,” she said.

She has been the top finisher from UALR in both events held so far this school year. “I didn’t expect it,” she said. “I wanted to be in the top – I worked for it.”

What does she miss most from home? “The food and Swedish candy,” she said. “I’m an athlete but I still eat candy.”

As for her expectations regarding the rest of the year, Mustonen said, “I want to improve my running.” If her first two events are any indication, she is well on her way to doing just that.


  • Judy Williams says:

    Sounds like UALR is the real winner in Sanna’s choice of coming here because she sounds like the kind of students we dream of – talented and motivated. Thanks for choosing UALR – and good luck!

  • Great for her. Indeed the weather in [Sweden] is way different and she would be even more in shock if she chose Nevada. Traveling to a new country and culture is always a positive experience and I am sure this young woman will learn a great deal here in Little Rock.