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Improvement and growth are major components of what makes great athletes great and memorable teams even better.
For Steph Beaudette (senior, natural science), being able to see how far her team has come in four years is what really counts.
“To see how far the program has come is a testament to our hard work,” she said. “It feels cool to be that team.”
That team is the Indiana University of Pennsylvania women’s cross country team, a team that is currently ranked 11th in the nation and first in the Atlantic Region. That Atlantic Region ranking knocks Shippensburg University off the top spot, a place they had held every week since 2009.
Beaudette and the team are already off to an inspiring start, winning the Seton Hill University Griffin Classic and finishing 12th in the Michigan State Spartan Invitational, a race in which they were pitted against some of the top competition in the nation.
Individually, she finished third at SHU and 32nd at Michigan State and doesn’t feel like she and the team ran the best they could.
“The exciting thing is that we’re not even at our best yet,” Beaudette said. “I haven’t been running to what my full potential is.”
This weekend will be a big test for the Crimson Hawks as they travel to Bethlehem for the Paul Short Invitational. Last season, IUP finished fourth in the second toughest bracket of competition. This year, they’ll be moving up into the toughest bracket and squaring off against big names like the University of Alabama, Georgetown University, Penn State University, Villanova University and West Virginia University.
“It’ll be cool to see how we stack up,” she said. “Every year it’s been terrible weather, but this year it should be good.”
The Paul Short Invitational will be a good test for the Crimson Hawks, but it will also be a first for Beaudette as she and her brother, Greg, will be running on the same team for the first time ever.
“I’m so glad that he decided to come here,” she said. “He loves it.”
Beaudette’s parents will be making the trip from their home in Johnston, R.I., to see both of their children race together for the first time.
Her parents will potentially get to witness a team that has come together and bonded to produce some of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference’s best runners.
Along with Beaudette, Samantha Thompson (senior, biology) and Rachel Magliane (sophomore, food and nutrition) highlight the top trio for the Crimson Hawks.
For Beaudette, competing and training with Thompson and Magliane has only made her better.
“The goal is to be as close to them as I can,” she said. “I just want to be able to run the best I can to help my team.”
She and Thompson both came in as freshmen and have been able to see the program grow and develop. Magliane is just a sophomore but has already made a huge impact.
“I love having her [Thompson] here and being able to grow with her,” Beaudette said. “Rachel was kind of like a breath of fresh air, and I’m excited to see what she can do beyond when I’m gone.”
As the team finishes out their season and prepares for the PSAC Championships, a bright future is ahead.
Applying to physical therapy schools and enjoying her last year as a Crimson Hawk, she will be remembered as a member of a cross country team that proved that hard work really does pay off.