Cleary University won the women’s national championship in cross country; the men’s team placed third.

Elaine Labarge took a leap of faith when she came down from Alpena to run cross country at Cleary University.

Two years earlier, the cross country program didn’t even exist. The following year, her senior year in high school, Cleary’s inaugural squad consisted of two runners – three short of an official team.

Labarge wasn’t desperate. She was talented enough to run for any number of colleges.

But she chose to run for a team that wasn’t yet a full team, believing in the passionate coach whose own running accomplishments gave her instant credibility on the recruiting trail.

“Sarah Boyle talked to me quite a bit,” Labarge said. “She continuously contacted me and answered any questions I had, which I really liked. When I came and visited, I liked how the class sizes were smaller. I enjoyed how the campus was and how they were still growing. I wanted to be part of a team I could help grow and become the kind of team we have today.”

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Source: Cleary wins national women’s cross country title