The way track season ended wasn’t satisfying for Rachel Brougher.
So the Columbus North standout went to work this summer, putting in a couple months of hard training in preparation for her senior cross-country season. She hopes the results lead to a big year.
“My workouts have been feeling good,” Brougher said. “I’ve been focusing a lot on senior year and trying to get to be as fast as I can.”
After finishing 10th in the 3,200 meters in the state track meet in 11 minutes, 5.55 seconds as a sophomore, Brougher was poised for a top finish this spring. She ran the first 1,600 in 5:15 but faded to 24th in 11:39.60.
North cross-country coach Rick Weinheimer said that fueled a great offseason for Brougher.
“She had a really good track season but had a state meet that she was disappointed in,” Weinheimer said. “I’m not sure she was completely healthy, but she still has high standards. She’s taken that disappointment and channeled it into just a lot of really hard training.”
This summer, Brougher ran about 42 miles a week. She put in a little more last week, the first week teams could begin official practice.
“It’s been a really good summer,” Brougher said. “I feel like I’ve done a little bit more than I have, but it’s getting quicker, which I’m excited about, and I’m excited to have all of my other teammates with me now. We lost a lot of girls that graduated that were on our varsity, and all the girls that are on the team right now are just working so hard to fill in those shoes.”
Brougher, who has earned All-State honors with 11th-place finishes in the past two state cross-country meets, is one of only three returning varsity runners for the Bull Dogs. As the top runner on the girls team by a wide margin, she has been doing some of her training with North’s boys squad.
Although she hasn’t taken any official college visits, Brougher has been in contact with coaches at Indiana University, Belmont, Lee University, Mississippi State, Tulsa, South Carolina and UNC-Greensboro and is hoping to hear back from Wisconsin. She said her favorites are IU and then Mississippi State.
“It just feels like North almost, but advanced, and that’s why I like those two,” Brougher said. “I really like the idea of IU. It’s always kind of been a dream of mine since I was little to be a college athlete. It was to be a basketball player there, and now, obviously, I run, so it’s not that anymore. But I’m also keeping my mind open to other places.”
Last cross-country season, Brougher won Brown County sectional and regional titles and finished second in the Brown County semistate. She ran a personal-best 18:11.49 for 5,000 meters (3.1 miles) in the regional.
Brougher is hoping to go under 18 minutes this fall and come away with another high state finish.
“Rachel’s biggest strength is how conscientious she is, and one of her toughest challenges is how hard she is on herself,” Weinheimer said. “So I think it’s a matter of her just trusting what she’s doing and allowing herself the freedom to be as good as she can be.”
Name: Rachel Brougher
School: Columbus North
Sports: Cross-country, track
Career highlights: Has finished 11th in the past two state cross-country meets to earn All-State honors, finished 10th in the 3,200 meters in the 2015 state track meet