East Aurora Advertiser article | July 31-August 6, 2008

Interviewed and wrote an article that was published in the East Aurora Advertiser.

Reaping the Rewards of High School Running

Written by Sarah Mosser

The same dedication that three recent graduates have demonstrated throughout their careers running at East Aurora High School, which has already earned them division and state titles alike, will open for them yet another avenue of opportunity. For harriers Alice Coughlin, Jenna Hulton, and Catherine Lusardi, running has helped in their admittance to the college of their choice and has provided financial incentives.

All three young women began receiving letters from interested colleges during their sophomore and junior years, even before their college search began. Lusardi started her collection of college letters freshmen year, with schools such as Cornell University, Dartmouth, and Duke University. Coaches then began making telephone calls to each of the girls following their junior year, inviting them on official visits in which the schools paid for an overnight stay with the team. Hulton was even flown to a school on one of her official visits.

Hulton began running track her freshmen year and cross country her sophomore year. She first started looking at schools from the stack of letters she received from interested colleges after competing in cross country. “I really wanted to go to school in the Adirondacks,” said Hulton. After competing at the New York State Track & Field Championship her sophomore year, she fell in love with the meet’s host, St. Lawrence University. She was soon in contact with the coach and took an official visit to the school her senior year. Apart from being recruited by SLU, she was offered a full-ride to Division I Marist College, and the price of tuition to Division I Quinnipiac University. In the end, she accepted a scholarship and financial aid package to Division III St. Lawrence University, accounting for more than half the cost of tuition. “It was the best fit for me overall, academically and for running,” said Hulton. “It just felt right.” Hulton also received the Chur Family scholarship, the Moose Lodge Scholarship, and the Gloria Muck Memorial Scholarship. She will major in Biology.

Lusardi experienced the same interest from colleges who wrote her following her first season of cross country. She was heavily recruited by Division I schools Brown University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Marist College, and Syracuse University. It was after her official visit to Cornell, that the school became her top choice. “It was a combination of things,” said Lusardi. “The campus was beautiful and the people were really down to earth.” She has accepted their offer to run for the Big Red, and has received a sizable financial aid package, improved upon by the coach. Lusardi will major in Natural Resources at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Coughlin’s initial contact with her eventual college, Division II Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, also began after receiving a letter regarding her cross country season. Coaches then began calling her from Edinboro, the University of Bradford, and the University of Virginia. According to Coughlin, running was probably the biggest decision-making factor in her college selection. “I wanted places to run,” said Coughlin, “and a lot of the schools didn’t have that.” She also found it comforting that her high school coaches Walt and Marty McLaughlin both ran for Edinboro’s current coach Doug Watts. “[The coach] said he’d be there for another four or five years,” said Coughlin. She has received a partial scholarship to compete for the Fighting Scots.

These girls will join the ranks of a handful of former East Aurora runners who are competing at the collegiate level. Among these athletes receiving full athletic scholarships are 2005 East Aurora graduates Desiree Rudloff to the State University at Buffalo and Jamie Rzepecki to the University of Central Florida, and 2006 graduate Sarah Mosser to Boston University. “Competing for the Terriers has given me the opportunity to study at the college of my choice,” said Mosser. “As an athlete, we also receive additional benefits that other students do not, including early class registration and other academic support.” Mosser’s classmate Eric Hill, who is currently competing for Division I University of Vermont, also recommends high school athletes to consider running in college. “Right away you have people who will help you out,” says Hill.

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