By Dan Guttenplan
---- — DURHAM, N.H. – Keely Maguire concluded her collegiate cross-country career in a similar fashion to the way she closed out her high school career — with a conference championship.
Maguire, a fifth-year senior on the University of New Hampshire cross-country team, recently wrapped up one of the best cross country seasons by a UNH runner in recent memory. Maguire captured the 2012 America East individual title on UNH’s College Woods course, helping the Wildcats finish second in the conference for the third-straight season. She went on to place 16th overall at the NCAA Regional meet, earning All-Region honors for the second year in a row.
Maguire’s final cross-country performance at UNH took place at NCAA National Championships, where she placed 112th overall. Maguire was the first member of the UNH women’s cross country team to qualify for national championships since Cathy Parker made the trip in back-to-back seasons in 2006 and 2007.
Maguire, a Georgetown native, was a dominant cross-country runner at Triton Regional High before her graduation in 2008. She was a three-time Cape Ann League and EMass. Division 3 cross-country champion.
Maguire’s historic senior season came on the heels of an injury-plagued collegiate career. During her senior year at Triton, she was diagnosed with Compartment Syndrome, an exercise-induced and painful neuromuscular injury that caused swelling and pressure in both of her legs.
The injury lasted well into Maguire’s freshman year at New Hampshire, and she red-shirted in cross-country as a freshman. She returned to running during the outdoor track season, earning the America East Outdoor Track and Field Rookie of the Meet after a first-place finish in the 10,000-meter event.
Maguire was bothered by a new injury — IT Band Syndrome — as a sophomore. She experienced constant knee pain due to the inflammation of the IT band that stretches from the pelvis to the shin.
Last summer, Maguire struggled with Compartment Syndrome surgery for the second time in four years. She underwent surgery, and returned earlier than expected, running her first race of the season on Sept. 28 at the Paul Short Invitational. One month later, she won the America East Championship. On Nov. 9, four months to the day of the surgery, she qualified for the NCAA Championships.
“Reliving the season, I had to push to come back early and just be competitive. Looking back, it was like a dream,” said Maguire. “My goal was always to qualify for the (NCAA) Outdoor Track Championships, I never thought it would happen in cross country.”
Maguire improved her finish at America East Championships in each of the last three cross-country seasons. She finished 45th as a sophomore, fourth as a junior, and first as a senior.
“She has overcome injuries and obstacles that most people would retire for,” said UNH coach Robert Hoppler. “Most people wouldn’t still be running. And instead of just simply running, she is actually winning championships as well. It is pretty remarkable.”
Hoppler credits the athletic training staff and the entire team for giving Maguire the resources necessary to accomplish this feat.
“It is a team effort. She takes the efforts that her coaches, teammates, and doctors put in and has been able to capitalize on those efforts,” said Hoppler. “A big piece of her success has to be attributed to the training room and the doctors as well. Our training staff has done a great job with Keely over the course of Keely’s career here.”
Maguire has made quite a name for herself at UNH, and the list of accomplishments is still growing as she heads into her final indoor and outdoor track seasons. The two-time conference track champion most recently qualified for the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field East Preliminary in the 10,000 meters for the second straight season. She also captured her second New England title last spring with a first-place finish in the 1,500 meters.
Her five years in Durham have been quite a journey, and she claims she could not have done it without Hoppler, who she relies on for constructive criticism.
“We have a great, mentoring relationship,” Maguire said. “There is always the ability to talk to him about training and theories instead of there just being one plan. We can definitely talk and philosophize about different aspects of running. So I have learned a lot from him.”
As Maguire closes in on the final months of her collegiate running career, she has no plans of retiring in the spring.
“I still want to qualify for nationals on the track this season, but after that, I will still be running,” said Maguire. “Not sure exactly in what form, but I’ll be running for a while.”