A clean bill of health could take Rachel Dever a long way during the 2017-18 school year.
Dever, a senior for Marian University’s women’s cross-country and track programs, has performed superbly during a career that to this point has twice been interrupted by some early-season misfortunes.
A bout of pneumonia caused the Center Grove product to sit out Marian’s first three cross-country meets as a sophomore. Last fall, she missed the first two competitions due to a bunion causing soreness in her left foot.
Currently preparing for her final season, Dever is expected to be at or near the top of the team’s lineup when Marian opens Sept. 9 at the John McNichols Invitational hosted by Indiana State University.
“Going into this season and not being sick or not being injured is really exciting,” Dever said. “Our cross-country nationals are out in (Oregon) this year. Trying to qualify for that is one thing we’re all looking forward to.”
Last season, Dever’s cross-country times gradually improved, from 20 minutes, 11 seconds in her first race to 19:52 to a 19:50 at the NAIA Great Lakes Challenge at Aquinas, Michigan.
Dever then closed with a time of 19:09.4 to place 14th individually at the Crossroads League championship at Indiana Wesleyan University. The Knights return all seven runners from the team that placed fourth of 10 squads overall.
“We’re looking forward to what these runners are going to bring along with some of the freshmen we have coming in,” said Marian coach Mike Holman. “Rachel will play a big part of that and could very well be our No. 1 runner.”
Some of the confidence Dever brings to her final cross-country season is rooted in accomplishments from this past track season. Foremost among them is her school-record time of 18:13.64 in the 5,000-meter run during an invitational at the University of Cincinnati.
Dever’s diversity as a runner enabled her to take part in the 4×800 relay, 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters for Marian last indoor track season. Once the Knights’ outdoor season began, she competed in the 800, 1,500 and 5,000.
But it’s this time of year that places Dever into her element athletically.
“I like cross-country better,” said Dever, a nursing major who carries a 3.5 grade-point average. “It’s just the atmosphere and the fact everyone is running the same race. In track, everyone is off to run their own event.”
No matter which of team Dever is representing, Holman, who previously led Lawrence Central High School to state titles in 1998 and 2005 and three runner-up finishes, appreciates the example she sets on a daily basis.
“You just can’t ask for a better kid,” Holman said. “Rachel is a great leader, a good human being and a dream to coach. Just the maturity she brings is important to our team.”
Marian’s 2017 cross-country schedule:
Sept. 9;John McNichols Invite;Terre Haute
Sept. 15;Indiana Intercollegiates;West Lafayette
Sept. 30;Greater Louisville Classic;Louisville
Oct. 6;Bethel Invitational;Mishawaka
Oct. 21;NAIA Great Lakes Challenge;Aquinas, Michigan
Nov. 4;Crossroads League Championship;Carmel
Nov. 18;NAIA National Championship;Portland, Oregon