Small town athlete has big hopesThursday, October 7 2010 - Bradley Classic - Megan Gingerich
Dominic Renzetti/Staff Reporter
Issue date: 10/6/10 Section: Sports
After red-shirting her freshman year and running in just two meets during the 2009 season, Gingerich has improved to become one of the Panthers top runners.
Gingerich finished fourth at the Peace to Meece memorial run, 17th at the EIU Panther Open, 52nd at the Illinois Intercollegiate and 59th at last Friday's Notre Dame Invite.
She has good statistics, but Gingerich has only been running cross country for three years.
Gingerich didn't start running cross country until she came to college.
She sat out her freshman year and did not compete in a race until her sophomore year of college.
As a track athlete, Gingerich's coaches advised her to pick up the sport of cross country when she came to Eastern to help her improve her endurance and further improve her times. Gingerich was being moved up from a middle distance runner to a long distance runner on the track team and said she thought cross country would help her improve.
Gingerich is a junior, now, and came from the small town of Arthur, which is about 30 miles north of Charleston.
Founded in the 1860s, Arthur is home to the largest and oldest Amish community in the state of Illinois. Arthur has a population of just over 2,000 people.
Gingerich said she enjoys the small town atmosphere. She said that it's a lot different growing up in small town, compared to a lot of her teammates who hail from suburbs or bigger areas.
"Whenever I say that I'm from a class of thirty-two people, it's pretty shocking to people, but I liked it," Gingerich said.
"It was kind of 'everyone knew everyone', and the town was really supportive of the high school kids. I liked it."
With the 2010 cross country season close to halfway over, Gingerich said she is very happy with the way things have been working so far.
"We've been doing really really well," she said.
"The very first meet of the year we all improved, every single person ran a PR (personal record). Pretty much every single week, everyone has been improving, whether it's in time or just in their personal workouts throughout the week."
Gingerich said she is also very happy with her performance personally. She said she feels she has improved, and that her competition in track has carried over well into the cross country season.
Gingerich said she credits much of her and the team's improvement to the team's new head coach Erin Howarth.
Gingerich said Howarth is an extremely nice person and that it's obvious she cares about each and every person on the team, athletically and personally.
"It's not just about running with (Coach Howarth)," Gingerich said.
"She'll ask you about your classes and how your family is doing. The small things like that make the biggest difference, and I think it carries over into our running. It makes a huge difference in everyone's attitude toward the season."
With the Ohio Valley Conference championship coming up in a few weeks, Gingerich said she's confident in her team's performance and readiness.
Gingerich said the scheduling of good competition will prepare the team well for the conference championship.
Gingerich said she feels with each meet the team is becoming more and more prepared and that Eastern should be able to compete with conference rivals Eastern Kentucky and Murray State.
Gingerich and the rest of the Eastern cross country team will be back in action on Oct. 14 for the Bradley Invite, held in Peoria.
The event marks the last meet for the Panthers before the Ohio Valley Conference championships.
Dominic Renzetti can be reached at 581-7944 or firstname.lastname@example.org.