Thursday, March 8, 2012

How Megan Goethals raced against OCD and won...

I led off my recap of the 2011 MPSF indoor track & field championship meet by writing, "If there was an athlete who'd receive the award for the most unexpected win in a conference championship meet, that award would go to Megan Goethals (#2, left/photo by Paul Merca)."

"While she had the pedigree of being the national high school cross country runner of the year in 2009, and won the Foot Locker national cross country title as a senior out of Rochester, Michigan, the University of Washington freshman wasn't expected to be a factor for the Huskies during the indoor season, especially when she was shut down by the coaching staff about halfway through the cross country season due to health problems."

Fast forward one year later, and Goethals is back, entered in both the 3000 and the 5000 at the NCAA indoor track & field championships, which begins Friday in Nampa, just outside of Boise, Idaho.

The road to Nampa was filled with many obstacles for Goethals, who was diagnosed after the September 2010 Notre Dame Invitational cross country race as having obsessive-compulsive disorder, not to mention the fact that she was underweight, which were the "health problems" that forced Husky coach Greg Metcalf to shut her down for three months.

UW Director of Writing Gregg Bell posted what I think is a very compelling and inspirational story about the struggles Goethals faced, and how she overcame them to get to where she is today.

You can read Bell's story here...

The picture I shot of Goethals being hugged by nearly every member of the Husky women's distance team after winning last year's MPSF meet is one that remains vivid in my mind, in that it wasn't the fact that she had just won a race--they were celebrating Goethals' victory over adversity, a foe that could have easily ended her collegiate running career, as described in this Running Times piece by Rachel Sturtz.

Goethals is one young lady that you can't help but root for.

Bell ends his piece by quoting Megan on what she's done to get where she is today:

"All my hard work has gotten me to this. I just have to believe in myself and my abilities."

"Sometimes I have feelings like, `What if that happens again?' I know it's not going to. I just have to keep reminding myself of that."

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