HOWELL - Cleary University women's cross country coach Sarah Boyle is used
to wearing red, white and blue. After all, they are the school's colors.The next time she dons those colors, there will be one big difference - the letters USA will be on her uniform.
Boyle, a Brighton resident, has been selected as one of nine women to represent the United States at the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross County Challenge in Scotland, Jan. 5. Teams from across Europe compete at three different distances.
The opportunity arose after Boyle competed in the U.S. Club Cross Country Championships in Lexington, Kentucky in early December.
"I had never run the U.S. Club Cross Country race before and wanted to give it a shot because it was a more competitive race," said Boyle, who finished the 6K event in a personal best time of 20:40.
The top six finishers for men and women qualify for the Scotland race, but Boyle, who finished ninth, didn't really think about that prior to the race.
"I thought finishing in the top six was a long shot, with this being my first cross country race in a couple of years. I was more focused on seeing how close to the front I could get. After the race, I was told there was a chance I could receive an invitation."
As it turned out there were a couple of runners who couldn't make the trip and, after a week, Boyle received an invitation.
"It was a very long week waiting to hear," said Boyle, who leaves Jan. 2.
The Edinburgh race features men's and women's team races. The women's race is 6K and the men's event is 10K. No American has ever won any of the three races since the event began in 2005.
High-level competition is nothing new for the former NCAA Division 1 track and cross country standout.
Boyle competed in three national cross country championships and was a three-time national qualifier in the steeplechase as a member of the Michigan State University track and cross country teams. She graduated from MSU in 2009.
"This is my first international race, and a great honor to represent the U.S.A," said Boyle, also an admissions advisor for Cleary.
Boyle said the challenge in Scotland will be both physical and mental.
"My biggest challenge in this race will be trusting my ability to run where I know I can. I believe since I have finished running for MSU, I have only gotten stronger mentally and physically as a runner. This race will be a true test of this," said Boyle.
As for a goal for the race, Boyle said, "My goal is to help Team USA aim to win the team title. I would like to go out there knowing I gave it everything I had while representing my country."
"I'm floored," said Boyle, a native of Mankato, Minnesota. "I had never thought about putting on a Team USA uniform. I am extremely excited and proud to represent my country."
Cleary University (CLEARY.EDU) is an independent, not-for-profit, multi-campus, specialized business university, committed to the betterment of society through the success of its alumni and their employers; to operate as a role model of responsible business practice; to embrace quality management principles, innovation, and an attentive customer focus; and to aspire to a better future.
Cleary's mission is to provide a practical, application-based education, which equips students to advance their careers.