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Darien Grad Picks Up Speed at Columbia

Former Darien High Blue Wave runner Caroline McDonough was tense as she stepped onto the starting line at this year's Ivy League cross country championship race at Van Cortland Park in New York City. She was thinking of her freshman year at Columbia University , when she contributed no points on race day.

"My goal this season was to improve from last year," McDonough said, "and more importantly to score points for my team at the championship race."

McDonough accomplished that goal as she raced through the line in second place, with a time of 17:18.9 over the 5,000-meter course. She received All-Ivy League honors that day and became the third fastest Columbia Lion to race on that course.

Later in the season, the sophomore qualified for the NCAA National Championship after finishing fifth at the Regional Championships. She placed 43rd at nationals with a time of 20:54.2 on a 6,000-meter course in Terre Haute, Ind.

McDonough attributed her success to her growing knowledge of the sport. "I developed more confidence after freshman year," she said, "and I really figured out what kind of training works for me and what doesn't."

The 20-year-old has been running competitively for five years, starting her career at Darien High , where she holds school records in the 3,200-meter run, with a time of 10:45, and the 1,600-meter run, with a time of 5:12.

"Whatever I put in I get out," she said. "I like that running is individual, because I can control what happens and I don't have to rely on others to do well." At Columbia, she ranks third on the Lions' all-times list in the 3,000- and 5,000-meter runs.

This spring, her team has to do without McDonough. She's recovering from a stress fracture to her hip, which is a common injury among distance runners and is caused by repetitive strain to the hip. Instead of racing, she's finding time to make plans for her future. Currently interviewing for summer internships back home in Connecticut, the political science major hopes to work in human resources in a large corporation when she graduates.

McDonough's interested in what keeps a business running efficiently, and in human resources, she said, she would evaluate the organization of a company and how it treats its employees.

Do you know a local graduate with a great story? Email reporter Casey Donahue at .

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