Former state champion harrier turns the corner at Iowa


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The college-level success of a high-school state champion doesn’t always happen so fast.

In Megan Ranegar’s case, the high-school success didn’t carry over into college at an alarming rate, but she is now one of the top Iowa harriers attempting to make her stamp on the program.

She  is in her senior season at Iowa, and even though she won the 3,200-meter state championship in Indiana, her success at Iowa didn’t happen as quickly as some may have expected.

“Coming in as a freshman, I wasn’t very confident in my running abilities and even as a person,” Ranegar said. “The transition was pretty tough going from being a competitive runner in all your races to having girls who are faster than you everywhere and not winning races anywhere.”

Head coach Layne Anderson noted that the transition from high school to college running isn’t as easy as most think.

“People who don’t understand distance running would look at Megan and say, ‘Well, she’s the best in her state coming out of high school,’ ” Anderson said. “Even being the best her state, a lot has had to occur [for Megan]; she’s had to endure, work hard, put in miles, get stronger, get faster, grow in confidence.”

Ranegar said the high level of running in college, as well as the busy life of a student, made her transition difficult.

“There’s definitely a learning curve in getting used to college running,” she said. “There’s a huge conflict of balance between academics, athletics and having a life outside of those two things.”

But the lack of immediate success doesn’t seem to be due to a lack of hard work or commitment.

Kelsey Hart, Ranegar’s teammate and career-long roommate said it wasn’t anything she was doing wrong.

“She hasn’t changed anything drastically, but just adapting to the training and the lifestyle of being a distance runner,” Hart said. “The training, the nutrition, everything that goes into [the distance running lifestyle].”

Ranegar credited the rise in her college career to the support that she found in her teammates and coach.

“My team has always been such a supportive and amazing group of women, and my coach is someone I really trust. He’s been there for me all four years,” Ranegar said. “I’ve changed as a person and as an athlete. I’m more confident in my running because of my support group.”

The turning point of Ranegar’s career at Iowa was noticed last spring, when she began competing and running with high-level competition, Anderson said.

Ranegar placed in the top-10 in three cross-country meets last season, including a third-place finish at the Iowa Open. The senior also won the mile at the Iowa Open in 2011 and placed 11th in the 3,000-meter race at the Iowa State Classic.

“She really came into her own last spring, and for her first time at Iowa, she really began to compete against the best in the Big Ten,” Anderson said.

It wasn’t a question of Ranegar’s work ethic, he said, but the enduring progression of a college runner.

“Prior to last spring, it wasn’t a lack of desire; it’s not like she wasn’t working hard enough; it’s just that whole evolution of distance runner,” he said.

Ranegar said that through her years at Iowa she has evolved not only as a runner but as a person as well.

“I’ve changed as a person and an athlete,” she said. “The things I need for myself to be successful and for my team to be successful — just focusing on those things and not letting the distractions that a normal college campus offers get in my way.”

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