TERRE HAUTE —
Rose-Hulman has a cross country runner in the NCAA Division III championships for the sixth time in the history of the men’s or women’s programs.
Ryann-Rebecca Montgomery is the second woman to qualify for the Engineers. The Lafayette, La., native will race for All-America status Saturday at Hanover in the women’s 6K race.
Montgomery is a senior but only began competing collegiately two years ago. She joined the track team after leaving Appalachian State to work on her civil engineering degree at one of the top engineering schools in the nation.
“I did really well in high school. I won the [state championship] mile once or twice, and won the state cross country meet my junior year [in the second-to-smallest class in Louisiana],” Montgomery said.
Montgomery hadn’t been running, competitively or casually, for a few years when she decided it was a good way to get acquainted with her new surroundings in Terre Haute.
“I transferred in and lived off campus and was lonely and needed a way to make friends so I joined the track team,” Montgomery said Thursday after a workout in a steady rain at the Engineers’ outdoor track facility.
“Every year, it’s just gotten better and been a lot of fun,” she added.
Coach Geoff Wayton has been impressed by Montgomery’s commitment to making big improvements.
“The workouts we wrote for her were geared toward her running 22 minutes before the conference meet for a 6K, and she ran 22 minutes exactly,” Wayton said. “We set a goal for the regional and she hit that as well, dropping 16 more seconds. She’s a sponge. Mainly, I just want her to have an awesome senior year. That’s been the focus.”
Wayton knew Montgomery had big potential since she already had the school record in the 1,500 meters (4:46). He traded e-mails with Montgomery and got her started on a training regimen as soon as possible, and she worked at it.
“It didn’t sound like she’d been doing a whole lot of training so we got a late start. She made the most of every moment. She’s so coachable,” Wayton said.
The Pre-National race at Hanover was a sign of things to come. Montgomery shaved her personal best by 83 seconds.
“I said, ‘That’ll never happen again,’ ” Wayton said. “Then she dropped another 89 seconds at the regional. It’s fun for her. I told her to just have the most fun she’ll ever have running, have fun seeing how good you can be.”
Wayton was impressed by her racing ability to nab third place at the region meet.
“Third in a meet of that caliber was fun to watch. She’s so tough. She was hurting pretty bad in that race and started clawing back with her head up chasing people down,” Wayton said.
The top 35 are All-Americans. The women’s race is at 11 a.m., with the men’s race to follow at 12:30 p.m.