All the way to Ithaca: Erin McLaughlin

<p style="text-align: center;"> <strong>Colorado&#39;s Class of 2014 makes their decisions...</strong></p>

A second-place finisher at this year's state cross country meet, Erin McLaughlin is anxious to take her race to Ithaca, New York. Photo by Alan Versaw.

Erin McLaughlin's best marks:

1500 meters - 4:40.40 (at altitude)

1600 meters - 5:03.(at altitude)

3200 meters - 11:03.18 (at altitude)

5K cross country - 18:11.30


Erin, there's an incredibly long line of top-tier female distance runners at Boulder High School. Does it ever feel like you've been walking with history? 
I absolutely feel as if I've been walking--or is it running?--with history these past four years. It's humbling to hear about all the past accomplishments of Boulder distance runners, and I'm constantly inspired by the history of the program. My coaches have done a great job of allowing me to benefit from Boulder's distance legacy, while never making me feel overshadowed by it.
Did you come into high school with dreams of joining the legacy or was that something that emerged later?
Before I even started my high school running career, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to train with some of the  girls who make up that legacy, specifically Melody Fairchild, Kelsey Lakowske, Sam Lewis, and Nell Rojas. I owe a lot to their support and advice. I always did look up to them, and dreamed of contributing to the team like they had.
You've also had the one-part-joy-one-part-frustration of going through high school at more or less the same time as a very large number of Colorado's best-ever female distance runners. How does all that work in your mind?
Without such a high level of competition to run against,  I don't think my high school running career would be half as fulfilling as it has been.  I have the utmost respect for my competitors because I know we push each other a lot. In the end, tough races and competition are just a part of the learning curve, and despite the occasional disappointing race, the overall experience is overwhelmingly positive.
What's been the best memory of high school cross country/track and field to date?
My favorite memory of high school running to date was getting second at the Cross Country State meet last fall.  After a somewhat interrupted senior cross country season due to the flood and college recruiting trips, it was great to see my training pay off, and I was really happy to end my last high school season on a high note.  Although my team didn't qualify because of some issues with injuries, they still made the drive down to see me run, and sharing that moment with them made it that much more special. When I saw them afterwards, I might have teared up. Just a little.
Are there any big goals left to accomplish in your final high school season?
I want to make the most of my last high school season. I'm training harder than I ever have before, but at the same time I want to have as much fun as possible and enjoy my last season with my team. That being said, I wouldn't mind setting some new PRs, like breaking  5 minutes and 11 minutes respectively in the 1600 and 3200. I'm also always looking to improve my state finishes.
Cornell is a long way from home. What drew you to the school?
I was really impressed by the quality of Cornell's academic and athletic programs. Although Ithaca is far from home, the scenery is beautiful and the town is similar to Boulder in many respects. When I took an official visit there, I felt like the team and the school were both great fits for me. Coach Smith is universally loved and respected by everyone who is associated with the team. He and the athletes had an infectious pride in their school, and I'm really excited to become a part of that. It also didn't hurt that their trails were awesome.  Go Big Red!
Given the quality of competition around Boulder and within the 5A ranks, Erin should have plenty of opportunities to chase down a few dreams this spring. The fields that can help make 5-flat and 11-flat will definitely be there. Make sure you're taking in some distance events this spring and watching the drama unfold.