School: North Penn
Cross Country, Indoor Track, Track & Field
Favorite athlete: Frances Koons
Favorite team: Phillies
Favorite memory competing in sports: Setting the indoor state meet record in the Distance Medley Relay in my junior year because it was so unexpected and an amazing feeling to share with all my teammates!
Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: The funniest memory I have competing in sports was after the Manhattan College Invitational when we lifted our teammate onto the bus through the window, and our coach couldn’t figure out why we were missing a person when he counted us as we got on the bus!
Music on iPod: Zac Brown Band, Luke Bryan, Rascal Flatts, Train
Future plans: To study business or psychology at the College of William and Mary and to continue to compete in cross country and track at the Division One level.
Words to live by: ‘For every minute you’re angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson
One goal before turning 30: To have a successful career and run a marathon with my sister!
One thing people don’t know about me: I don’t have a middle name!
Meghan McGovern, according to her coach, is a once-in-a-lifetime runner.
“She like a coach’s dream,” North Penn cross country and girls’ track coach Jim Crawford Jr said. “She never complained about anything, she never gave suggestions unless you asked her for them. She just was a wonderful person to have as a member of your team. She carried herself so well.
“If she doesn’t win, she’s still okay with it. If she does win, she’s very happy about it, but she never gets down. She just always had a positive attitude towards everything.”
McGovern won a lot over the course of a stellar high school career, medalling in states all three years she ran cross country and capping her brilliant career with a first place finish in the state meet as a senior.
“I can remember at the end of the race, there was less than a quarter mile to go, and they have this real steep hill you have to go up,” Crawford recalled. “I was at the bottom of the hill, and I saw Meghan was very close to the girl in front of her.
“She was only a couple of yards behind her, and I said, ‘Meghan, it’s yours if you want it.’ I didn’t know if she even heard me or not, but she told me after the race, ‘I heard you say it, and I gave that little extra at the end.’”
McGovern is the first North Penn female to capture the state title in cross country, and in the process, she set a course record with her time of 18:28 over the 3.1-mile course. She also set a new course record at the Salesianum Invitational and won the Manhattan College Invitational for three straight years.
At the state indoor meet last winter, McGovern finished second in the 3000-meter run only to Homer Center’s Angel Piccirillo, who is one of the top distance runners in the nation. Piccirillo finished first with a time of 9:53 while McGovern ran a 9:57.
“That was the best time I ever ran in the indoor in the 3000,” McGovern said. “Angel Piccirillo is probably one of the fastest people I ever had a chance to run against. It’s crazy just to even have a chance to compete against somebody who is as good as she is. That was great.”
This spring, McGovern capped a brilliant career with a second place finish in the 3200-meter run at the state meet. Her silver medal finish came the morning after she went to her Senior Prom.
“I wanted to do both,” she said. “I didn’t want to miss out on my Senior Prom, but I wanted to perform well at states to have a good ending to my high school running career.
“Of course, I wanted to win, but to finish second, I was thrilled. When I made the decision to go to the prom, I knew it would either work out or it could go really, really bad. It worked out.”
What made McGovern so good? There are several things, according to her coach.
“First of all, she definitely has the natural ability,” Crawford said. “You can’t have somebody who has trouble putting one foot in front of the other one.
“She also has a competitive desire. When she wants to accomplish something, she really works at it.”
McGovern got her first taste of organized sports playing soccer as a youngster. She also played community softball and basketball and added field hockey and track when she was in seventh grade.
“I had gone out for track just to stay in shape for field hockey, soccer and the other sports I was doing,” McGovern said. “It was a fun, social thing to do.”
In eighth grade, she began experiencing success in track and opted to try indoor track the winter of her freshman year. The following spring, Crawford got his first glimpse of McGovern.
“She did a good job in the winter, and in the spring, she really blossomed,” the Maidens’ coach said. “From then on, it was just business as usual as far as she was concerned.”
Giving up field hockey in favor of cross country was an almost obvious decision for McGovern, who excelled as a distance runner from the outset.
“I had done pretty well in track in ninth grade, and by that point, I loved the girls on my team,” she said. “They were my best friends, and they were like, ‘Oh, you should do cross country.’ That was a no-brainer because I really was enjoying it.
“We had the summer workouts with the seniors, and I went to cross country camp. I was a totally converted runner by that point.”
McGovern was a quick study in both track and cross country.
“You show her things along the way, but she picks up on things on her own,” Crawford said. “She’s very intelligent so she can apply the things she’s learned and do them on her own.
“One thing I try to stress when I’m coaching is that I’m not there to hold their hands. I would rather have them learn how to do things themselves. With Meghan, it was never a problem. She just learned as she went along. I’m happy with the way it turned out for her. It showed what a good athlete she is that she can adapt and handle things on her own. Whether I’m there or not, she can go out an do the same job.”
McGovern points to cross country as her favorite season of the three, not because she won a state title but because of the camaraderie the team shared that invariably begins with their summer workouts.
“I feel it’s the closest group of all three,” she said. “With all the hard workouts and all the hot summer practices, I think everyone knows what each other is feeling, and I think that’s a huge part of it. You have that bond because you’re going through it together.”
McGovern points to her cross country team’s second place finish in states when she was a sophomore as a personal highlight.
“That was really a special team,” she said.
Another highlight for McGovern was competing in the prestigious Championship of America 3,000-meter race at the Penn Relays this spring. She finished fifth.
“That was amazing just because it’s girls from all different states, and it was under the lights at Franklin Field,” she said. “Our whole team was there, and I could hear them cheering.
“I had done it my sophomore year, but at that point, I think I was shocked by how much was going on. This year I was much more mature as a runner and a person. I was so much more prepared for it, and it was such a great experience.”
Just as she is an elite runner, McGovern also is an outstanding student. Ranked in the top five percent of her class, she is a member of the National Honor Society, Class Cabinet and Key Club. She also was a member of the yearbook staff.
This fall she will be taking her talents to the College of William and Mary where she will continue her cross country and track career. She chose William and Mary from a final list that included Princeton and St. Joseph’s. She is undecided on a major.
“I just loved the girls on the team, and I felt like I would fit in really well with them,” she said. “Academically, there were so many opportunities. It’s a great school, and the campus was beautiful. I just felt like I fit in there the best.”
Plans are for McGovern to move up to the 5K in track with the goal of eventually competing in the 10K.
“I’m excited for that because I think that’s where my strengths will be,” she said.
As she closed the chapter on her high school career, McGovern admits she couldn’t have written a better script.
“I never would have imagined I would be able to accomplish the things I have been able to accomplish this year,” she said. “It’s been such a great ending to my high school running career.”