Mohawk Trail grad Davis heads to national cross country meet with Tufts

  • Plainfield’s Meghan Davis, shown here running for the Mohawk Trail cross country team last year, will compete with her Tufts University squad this weekend at the NCAA Division 3 Championships in Louisville, Ky. Staff FILE PHOTO/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 11/21/2019 8:18:28 PM
Modified: 11/21/2019 10:14:36 PM

Meghan Davis always seems to find herself in big races.

Davis consistently led the Mohawk Trail girls cross country team on the big stage during her time in Buckland, and now a freshman at Tufts University, has found herself at the 2019 NCAA Division 3 Championship in Louisville, Ky., this weekend. The Jumbo girls team earned an at-large berth following a strong season and third-place finish at the New England Regional this past Saturday at Bowdoin College in Maine.

At the regional race, Davis finished 57th overall with a season-best time of 22 minutes, 49 seconds, good for fifth on the team.

“It’s incredible,” Davis said. “It’s never a guarantee with any team to make it there, so I’m very fortunate. We worked so hard and we deserve this. It’s going to be really great. As a team, we have a chance of doing really well. We have a lot of front runners who make their presence known on the course.” 

This marks the seventh consecutive appearance at the NCAA Championships for Tufts, with the team finishing in the top 20 each of the last six years.

Going from running in high school to college means increasing distances from a 5K course to a 6K course.

The change was welcomed by Davis, and one she feels has helped her as a runner.

“It’s going well this season,” Davis said. “I like longer distances, I tend to favor the 6K course all things considered. We’ve done very well as a team this year. I feel like I’ve definitely been getting faster as the year’s gone on. I feel like I belong out there.”

Davis said getting to compete at Nationals is an honor. Thirty-two teams are competing on Saturday, 16 receiving at-large berths and another 16 schools securing their spots with automatic bids.

The Plainfield native is hoping to once again put up a great time, something she thinks she’ll be capable of on a flatter course in Kentucky.

“Going for a personal best is always something to shoot for,” Davis said. “Last week, the course conditions were rough because there were icy patches with the cold. This course should be flatter and not as many deviations in the course to lose momentum and gain it back. Scoring as high for the team as I can is the goal and to push through the pack. This is the best of the best so I’m going to try to be as close to the front as I can be.”

Growing up in the hills of Western Mass., Davis isn’t fazed by running on uneven surfaces. Each race with the Jumbos presents a different terrain, but at bigger races like a national meet, the courses tend to be flatter and easier to run on.

“It’s very flat,” Davis said of the Louisville course. “It’s less of a cross country race and more of a big track race. I definitely benefit from change in terrain. I find it more enjoyable but the flat courses are a good test of your speed.” 

Being the top runner in the area for much of her time at Mohawk Trail, Davis was used to leading the pack at races in high school. Now at a bigger school and facing better competition, she’s been forced to race next to the competition, which she feels has helped her improve as a runner.

“I think just having other people to run with is huge,” Davis said. “It’s nice to have somebody to chase down. I think we learn more and benefit more from not winning all the time and having people in front of us. It’s testing your limits.”

Running on the cross country team hasn’t been the only thing on Davis’ mind during her first semester of college.

On top of her commitment to the team each day, Davis is also a biomedical engineering major, which eats away most of her free time. Still, she makes time to get in all her school work while still being available for team dinners.

“It’s definitely tough but balance is the key part,” Davis said. “Luckily we can register for classes first and I was able to fit it around the cross country and track schedule. My days are packed, though.”

Going to a school like Tufts isn’t easy, but it helps having others around who are going through the same challenges. Luckily for Davis, she is one of 10 freshmen on the cross country team. The group has built a strong bond throughout the season.

“From Day 1, everybody, not just the seniors, made us feel a part of the family,” Davis said. “The 10 freshmen, we all just connected and it’s nice having that group of girls that will support you.”

Saturday’s NCAA championship race kicks off at 11:45 a.m. at Tom Sawyer State Park in Louisville.

Following the conclusion of the cross country season, Davis will prepare for her track season as the former Mohawk Trail star is constantly in motion.

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