McGauley continues improving and taking on leadership role

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McGauley continues improving and taking on leadership role

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics

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After losing seven seniors in 2017 to graduation, Marquette women’s cross country needed some upperclassmen to step up this season. Junior Caitlin McGauley has answered that call with strong finishes and leadership.

“I am really happy with how the season is going so far,” McGauley said. “I knew we were going to lose some seniors and that I was going to have to step up and fill their role.”

McGauley has placed second, third and second respectively among Marquette women’s cross country runners in the first three races this season.

With those senior runners departed, the team needed hard work to get up to their levels and produce similar numbers, and McGauley has done that for her team.

“She has stepped up in a time where we really needed someone to step up,” head coach Mike Nelson said.

McGauley attributed her success to her offseason training.

“I trained constantly this summer and the hard work is paying off,” McGauley said. “I’m running personal bests.”

The personal-best times have impacted her confidence in practices and meets as well.

“I would say the largest way she has grown as a runner is confidence,” senior Nora Keller said. “She is a talented and hard working runner who doesn’t always realize her own capabilities. Our last race at Louisville is only going to grow her confidence.”

McGauley has also been a calming presence for her teammates with her encouragement and positive attitude.

“She always has words of encouragement during the nerve-racking window right before a race,” senior captain Mary Hanson said. “She’s genuine in her encouragement, and she’s always rooting for her teammates.”

Nelson particularly praised her approachability. Anyone on the team can go to McGauley for support or to talk about anything, Nelson said.

“She has taught me to not be so hard on myself,” Keller said. “She won’t let a disappointing race bring down her mood, but instead use it as fuel for the next race. I admire this attribute and strive to implement it in my own life as well.”

McGauley decided to begin running her freshman year of high school after running a fast mile time in middle school. While she lettered all four years in cross country, she did not run track at all coming into Marquette. Her freshman year included running the 10,000-meter race at the BIG EAST Championships.

That experience her freshman year was valuable, especially for someone who had no track experience.

“In her first meet, I don’t think she knew how a track meet was scored,” Nelson said.

“Caitie is fearless,” Keller said. “If she is nervous or uncomfortable, she does not complain but she does the best she can with the situation presented to her.”

McGauley went from having very little track experience and not even knowing if she was going to run in college to now being one of the top runners in the program.

“I remember her telling us that her decision to run at Marquette was kind of a last minute one,” Hanson said. “Now she’s one of our top contributors, and seeing that growth has been a really cool experience.”

McGauley, a biomedical sciences major on the pre-physician’s assistant track, first came to Marquette for her academics, but after reaching out to Nelson, she earned a spot on the team.

“He was able to offer me a spot, and I’m grateful I was able to join,” McGauley said. “This team has become my second family over the years.”

And as a result, Nelson has a leader for a rebuilding roster.

“She is an overall great person, teammate, and leader on our team and is going to go on and do great things in life,” Nelson said. “I have really enjoyed coaching her and I look forward to many more races with her.”

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