Cross Country

 

Berea High Graduate D’Arcy Hlavin to Run at NCAA National Meet on Saturday

By Alyssa Brosious ‘12

BEREA, OHIO -- Berea High graduate and Baldwin Wallace University senior multiple All-Ohio Athletic Conference runner D’Arcy Hlavin is no stranger to excellence.  Beginning her sophomore year at Berea, Hlavin began earning conference-wide honors in running and hasn’t looked back since.

This Saturday, November 21, Hlavin will run the final collegiate cross country meet of her career right here in Cleveland when she runs at the NCAA Division III National Championship Meet at the Highland Park Golf Course in Highland Heights at 11:00 a.m. BW is the host school for the championship meet which is part of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission’s “Championhip City” initative.

This Saturday, the top 32 teams and 56 other at-large runners for each the men and women will gather in Cleveland.  Hlavin’s berth came as an at-large runner in the women’s division.  It will be her second straight berth to the national meet. A year ago, she finished 182nd overall at the 2008 meet at Hanover (Ind.) College.

“I am extremely excited for this weekend, especially a chance to sleep in my own bed the night before the meet!,” said Hlavin. “Also, being able to compete as a team rather than individually adds another level of excitement because six more people are sharing my enthusiasm for the weekend. The competition level and amount of people that will be there yelling and screaming definitely puts an extra hype on the meet too.

“Last year’s national meet was an experience,” said Hlavin “I warmed up too fast and I started the race too fast, and in turn, I didn’t perform my best. It’s really easy to get caught up in the excitement. The competition is so much better than we’ve faced all season and its different running in the middle of the pack instead of in front. So, this year, I will run my own race and not get caught up in the emotion until afterward. The biggest thing  learned was to just enjoy it, because it really is a feat to qualify and it’s not something to take for granted.”

“We are excited that D’Arcy earned a place in the meet for the second straight year,” said veteran Head Coach Dr. Bill Taraschke. “It is a great way to end her career. Being able to run in the national meet as a senior in her hometown is special.  We also think that D’Arcy is pretty special too. She is both an excellent student and runner.”

Hlavin’s running career began slowly.

“When I was a freshman at Berea High, a best friend on the team qualified for the Ohio High School state meet as a freshman, and I thought that was awesome,” proclaimed Hlavin, who is a multiple event Ohio Athletic Conference champion in track, was the 2008 OAC Championship Meet individual champion and was the 2008 OAC Co-Cross Country Runner of the Year, “so I worked toward that goal during the four years of my high school career.”

After three years of working hard and persevering, Hlavin’s OHSAA bid came her way her senior season. In addition, she earned a nod as a regional qualifier the year before as a junior.

“It was tough and I ran my best time ever that day,” Hlavin commented about her state qualifying run.  “Our region was really tough.  I never expected it.”

Like most high school athletes, Hlavin participated in more than one sport.  Along with her four varsity letters in cross country and four letters in track and field, she played basketball for three years and earned one varsity letter.

“I could make what I wanted out of running because it was easier to excel at an individual sport,” said Hlavin, who placed 16th of 231 runners in 22:55.44 for 6K at last weekend’s Division III Great Lakes Region Meet at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana.  “I love basketball – I was just a lot better at running.”

So, when here high school career came to a close, she decided that BW was a good choice for college.

“It’s close to home,” Hlavin replied when asked why she chose BW.  “I wasn’t ready to leave when I was 18-years-old.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

But before she could really make an impact at BW, Hlavin suffered an injury that kept her from competitive running for almost two full years.

“When we went to Florida for spring break, it felt like my legs were going to snap in half,” said Hlavin.  I ended up having bilateral stress fractures, which kept me out of outdoor track that spring, and I didn’t run indoor or outdoor track during my sophomore year because of the recurring injury.  I’m a low-mileage person.  I tried to run with the ‘big dogs’ my freshman year [at BW], and it didn’t work.”

Despite the setbacks, it didn’t keep Hlavin from coming back strong in the fall of 2008.

“I started running one mile a day, then two miles a day – building myself up slowly,” said Hlavin, who carries a 3.7 grade average on pre-physical therapy and is both an Academic All-OAC and ESPN THE MAGAZINE Academic All-District IV honoree. “By the time summer came along, I was doing my regular training routine.

By season’s end, Hlavin earned the individual champion title at the OAC Championship Meet at Marietta College.

Hlavin recalled becoming the OAC individual champion as, “the best day of my life,” and grabbing the title of Runner of the Year “unexpected.”

“I’ll never forget it [the OAC championship meet],” said Hlavin.  “The feeling I had crossing the finish line first. It was...[pause] just [pause]....outstanding.  One of the best days of my life, hands down.”

When pointed out that she placed 182nd with almost the exact time she had at the Marietta meet. Hlavin laughed and pointed out that simply being at the National Championship Meet was enough, regardless of how she placed.

“That’s how I went in to the meet,” she recalled prepping herself for the race.  “I thought to myself, ‘Well, I made it here’.”

But that’s not how she’s approaching this Saturday’s meet.  Having been expected to be one of the OAC’s and Region’s top runners this year, Hlavin is becioming used to expectations.

“As a team leader, I feel more pressure to make sure that everyone is pumped up for the race, that everyone’s nerves are calm, and that we make it to the starting line in time and everyone’ is wearing their uniform,” said Hlavin. “

“As far as the running aspect goes, I felt more pressure last weekend to perform at the regional meet because I wanted to place high enough to lower our team score to help give us a better shot at qualifying the team. This weekend, I will be able to relax and not worry about qualifying or my shins hurting or anything. It’s my last collegiate race ever, and I’m going to run well no matter what. I feel no pressure whatsoever. I’ll be on the starting line with a big smile on my face.”

It is obvious because of her success during her entire running career that Hlavin spends a lot of time and effort in making herself better, but never forgets the “claim to fame” about being a Division III athlete, which means being a student comes first.

“Sometimes I put running before everything else, which might not be a good thing,” confessed the member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society and BW Dean’s List.  “But, it works for me.”

So, what happens for Hlavin after this Saturday’s meet?

“I’m looking forward to running my final seasons of indoor and outdoor track,” said the 2009 OAC 1500-meter champ.

“I also have to begin preparing to attend graduate school in physical therapy at either the University of Toledo or possibly The Ohio State University, and then I’d like to go on and get a doctoral degree in physical therapy.”

“D’Arcy is a very hard-working, driven, committed and dedicated individual who leads by example,” said Taraschke, who has won 47 OAC titles, been OAC Coach of the Year 33 times, NCAA regional Coach of the Year 12 times and Div. III National Coach f the Year twice. “She’s a winner. It’s really as simple as that.”

When it comes to running, though, Hlavin has no plans to end her career after BW.

“First, I’m going to take a big chunk of time off to let my body heal… maybe,” she joked.  “There are running clubs [at grad school], and I plan on running some marathons and road races.”

After BW, it is certain that Hlavin will be well-equipped physically and scholarly for whatever graduate school puts her to her next challenge or test.

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