After finishing her senior year’s track and field season with Mount Gilead, Michaela McGill will continue her running career at the collegiate level after signing a letter of intent to compete in cross country and track for the University of Toledo.
For the Indian runner, who placed seventh in the Division III cross country meet in the fall after taking eighth in the 3200 in her junior year in the state track meet, becoming a Division I athlete wasn’t an overnight process.
“I’d love to say it was just a big jump, but it took many hours deciding what I wanted and working hard at it every day,” she said. “Looking back, it seems to have happened so fast, but it took all four years.”
McGill noted that her first five-kilometer race took 45 minutes to complete. Now, her top time is 18:30. She had a comparable improvement in the 3200, going from 22 minutes to 11:10. She said that during her freshman year, she’d improved to 24:13, but then broke a leg and was sidelined for most of the remainder of that year.
“I broke my leg freshman year,” she said. “I was on crutches from then until the end of track.”
McGill, who intends to major in history and history education, while minoring in social work, looked a few other schools, but found a lot of positives with the Toledo program.
“When I went there, I got a really good gut feeling,” she said. “Their program is extremely good. The coach is amazing and the team was inviting and kind. Toledo is amazing.”
She added that the amount of time she improved in her races during the course of high school made her an intriguing prospect for the Toledo coaches.
“The one thing they really thought about is how much more I’ll improve,” she said. “I don’t just plan to be okay in college. I’m going to work harder than I’ve ever worked before to be All-American in college.”
McGill said that it won’t be easy to make it to that point, noting that she’ll initially have to get used to running with other girls instead of being out in the front of most races.
“I’m kind of excited,” she said. “It’s been a while since I’ve just been an average athlete. I’m excited to race people in a pack instead of being all alone and to work with people who are going to push me.”
She also is eager to experience other aspects of collegiate life.
“I’m looking forward to meeting new people after meeting some Toledo runners,” she said. “I looking forward to new experiences. I’m really looking forward to that.”
However, she will miss her time with Mount Gilead, as well.
“I’m mostly going to miss people,” she said. “Especially both of my coaches. We’ve really connected. It’ll be really hard to leave them.”
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS