Senior Holly Goergen never finished with a top time in high school, but after her running heroics at Webster, head coach Dan Graber said she has the potential to go into the Webster Athletics Hall of Fame.
Goergen ends her Webster career with 4,368 career wins with a winning percentage of .643.
Goergen said it is surreal when she thinks about how far she has come.
“It’s definitely crazy and exciting because in high school I never thought I could get this far,” Goergen said. “I never thought I could be in the front of the pack in a conference race so it’s definitely been an exciting experience.”
The women’s cross country team went into the NCAA Regionals riding a wave of success after finishing the regular season with record setting finishing times and a host of players receiving accolades.
In the tournament prior to Regionals, the team made it to the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) championship for the second time in school history. After coming up second in the conference championship last season, the team won this year, with five of its runners earning spots on the All-Conference team.
They went on to Regionals where they finished twenty-eighth place, tying for the third best time in school history.
Over the course of the season, Graber said he emphasized the importance of training hard and getting better,“The whole season we tried to focus on keeping the big picture in perspective,” Graber said. “A lot of the meets early on we were training like we were tired, so I tried to remind our runners that we’re training for the meets at the end of the season. I think they had a good perspective on it, they tried to get better each day and if you can get a little better each day, keep the goal of your workout in mind and stay healthy, then you’re going to run really well at the end.”
Graber just finished his fourth year as the head coach of the men’s and women’s cross country team.
Under his tutelage, the women’s cross country team has gone to the Regionals and scored in each one of his four years at Webster. No other Webster head coach ever had more than three teams score at this event.
“We’ve had players come in that have bought into what we’re doing and have been loyal and dedicated to the program, me and their teammates, and as result, we have more depth than we’ve ever had,” Graber said. “We can still get better, but we have more depth and people who are committed to the team, so as long as you have that, you should always have a team that is in position to score.”
In the Regionals Goergen finished the 6,000 meter course with her career best time of 23:07. With that time, she is in the top 10 in school history at the NCAA championships.
Goergen said with Regionals being her last cross country meet, she wanted to leave her Webster career on a high note and have no regrets when she finished the race.
“I wanted to go as hard as I could and go out on a good note, it was my last race so I wanted it to be my best one,” Goergen said. “A couple of girls on the team this season had this motto of ‘all out, pass out’. Usually in the middle of the season I would say ‘oh no, please don’t pass out on the finish line’, but for this race I definitely was thinking ‘all out, pass out’, it’s time to go.”
Senior Meghan Illig also recorded her career best finishing time in the 6,000 meter course with a time of 23:17. Throughout the season, Illig was recognized for her performance on the field by being named the SLIAC player of the week twice.
Illig said her conditioning and dedication to being an elite runner is what gave her the endurance to last.
“Day to day training and trying to live the runner’s life is what it comes down to,” Illig said. “Taking care of your body, getting enough sleep and eating the right things definitely helps. Doing the training and doing more than the bare minimum, and pushing myself a little bit more helped me in the long run.”
Illig said her love for racing will extend far past college.
“Running is a huge part of my life and it’s definitely going to continue to be a part of my life after I leave college,” Illig said. “I’d love to continue running some road races. I have a couple of my teammates that will probably continue to live in St. Louis so I’d love to catch up with some old teammates and go run with them.”