The 2019 girls cross-country season showed how much progress senior Sadie McCaulley made as the No. 1 runner for McFarland High School when it came to the stopwatch.

The Spartans took first in the Rock Valley Conference meet at Whitewater as McCaulley led the team with a fifth-place finish of 21:20.5.

McFarland also captured first in the WIAA Division 2 sectional tournament in Spring Green and qualified for the state tournament as McCaulley ran eighth with a time of 20:31.3.

McCaulley ran even faster at the Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids with a time of 20:16.4 as the Spartans took 14th on a gray, chilly and snowy day.

Her hard work and determination under co-head coaches Andrew Garvey and Scott Fischer have given her the chance to continue running in college as she recently signed a letter of intent to attend classes and participate on the women’s cross-country team at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

McCaulley, who just recently graduated from McFarland as the 2020 salutatorian, said St. Thomas seemed like the right place for her to participate in athletics and study mathematics education. She hopes to become a math teacher after working as an actuary while enjoying Minnesota’s longer winters.

“I hope to find places to cross-country ski during the winter,” McCaulley said. “The main factors that make me believe it is the best place for me to attend college are the positive cross country team atmosphere, the Roman Catholic campus ministries, the strong programs in STEM-related majors balanced with liberal arts courses, and the student population.”

Due to COVID-19 pandemic, McCaulley has not met the team or its head coach Joe Sweeney, but she has spoken with them via computer on Zoom and through text messaging.

The Tommies’ 2019 women’s cross-country team won three events and finished second in four others. The team took fourth place in the NCAA Division 3 regional in Waverly, Iowa. Eleven seniors graduated from the squad.

Teachers, coaches influential

She credited the influence of her first cross-country coach, Emily Davenport, in middle school with helping her stick with the sport.

“After my first middle school cross-country race, I promised myself that I would never run cross-country again, because it was ‘too hard,’” McCaulley said. “The encouragement and example of Coach Emily Davenport helped me to persevere through my first three seasons in middle school.”

Her coaches at McFarland – Bruce Fischer, Scott Fischer, Andrew Garvey and Michelle Garvey – helped mold McCaulley’s competitive spirit and taught her a lot about life.

“It is difficult to put into words how influential my cross-country coaches have been over the years,” McCaulley said. “The self-discipline, teamwork, and perseverance necessary to run cross-country are all lessons that help me in all areas of life – including academics.”

McCaulley’s desire to study math in college was fueled by several teachers including Mara Branch, Katie Schicker, Kirsten Steinke, Kaitlin Cherney, and Katelynn Bell.

“Math has been one of my favorite subjects since elementary school,” McCaulley said. “Their knowledge of and passion for mathematics elevated my skills in math and helped me develop a growth mindset.”

As McCaulley prepares for her college education at the University of St. Thomas, she is grateful for the opportunities she had as both a student and athlete at McFarland.

“We never stopped believing in each other (in the 2019 season), and were able to win the Rock Valley Conference meet and our sectional,” McCaulley said. “I have many fond memories with the cross-country team and friendships with teammates that will last for many years. I look forward to taking lessons I learned from McFarland distance running on to the next level.”

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