Megan Duwell attempts a Minnesota first at NCAA championships

Duwell has the chance to become the first Gophers runner to earn All-American status in the cross country indoor and outdoor seasons.

by Derek Wetmore

Gophers womenâÄôs track distance runner Megan Duwell has already accomplished a lot in her track career, but she is aiming to use those accomplishments as a springboard into the NCAA championships and potentially into the history books. Duwell and three of her teammates left Minnesota for Eugene, Ore., this past weekend for the NCAA outdoor track and field championships. Accompanying Duwell on the trip are Gabriele Anderson and Nikki Swenson âÄî both in the 1,500-meter run âÄî and discus thrower Nikki Tzanakis . Duwell will compete in the 10,000-meter run at the NCAA championships and is fresh off her second consecutive Big Ten championship in the event. Despite her dominance, Duwell is relatively a rookie in the event. The race at the championships this week will be just her fourth-ever 10K. She won Big Ten championships in two of those. âÄúIf you were to ask me what I thought I was recruited for coming in, I would have said track, and specifically middle distance,âÄù Duwell said. âÄúThrough training and practice, I transformed into a long-distance runner.âÄù It has apparently been a smooth transition for Duwell, who has transformed herself into one of MinnesotaâÄôs elite distance runners. SheâÄôll have a shot at history when she toes the starting line prior to the gun for the 10K. Duwell received All-American honors in both this cross-country season and indoor track season. If she completes the trifecta and earns All-American status for this outdoor season, she will be the first Gophers runner ever to achieve individual All-American status in all three seasons contained within a single school year. âÄúIâÄôm really excited about it,âÄù Duwell said. âÄúItâÄôs just an exciting opportunity. Whether it meant making history or not, I was still going to strive for attaining All-American. ItâÄôs just a special added bonus.âÄù Though her successes have been noted, the West Bend, Wis., native had a minor setback midway through her college career when she was diagnosed with a stress reaction in her right foot in January 2009. âÄúIâÄôve never had any bone-related issues before, so it caught me off-guard,âÄù Duwell said. âÄúObviously itâÄôs a frustrating experience when you have to sit on the sideline, but I felt like I used it as an opportunity to motivate myself to come back stronger.âÄù Upon her return, Duwell set the school record in the 5,000-meter run. Shortly after that race, Duwell won the 2009 Big Ten outdoor title in the 10K. She currently holds the University record for the both outdoor and indoor 5K, the indoor 3K, and cross countryâÄôs 6K. âÄúSheâÄôs a great cross-trainer. She does a hell of a job on the bike and the elliptical,âÄù assistant coach Gary Wilson said of DuwellâÄôs quick recovery. âÄúThat takes a lot of dedication and focus and heart. She wouldnâÄôt be where she is today without conquering those machines. SheâÄôs an animal.âÄù âÄúAll those things arenâÄôt necessarily fun, but itâÄôs the work that you have to put in to get the results,âÄù Duwell, who served for two years as the captain for the cross country and indoor and outdoor track teams, said. She had a difficult decision between entering the corporate world and running post-collegiately, but decided during the season to pursue a career in running. She said she will tour some programs across the country and make her decision by midsummer as to which programs she would like to join. âÄúIâÄôm excited to see what I can do and just continue to put in more miles,âÄù Duwell said. âÄúItâÄôs just crazy how fast time goes by, but IâÄôm excited for whatâÄôs to come.âÄù