Megan Beauchene’s senior year was supposed to be the time she finally got the medals she deserved.
It was supposed to be a breakthrough year full of lots of gold, winning and peak physical performance.
The hard work that she thought would lead to a dominant cross country season instead caused her to nearly miss it.
“I had really, really high goals for cross country and nothing was going to stop me from getting them,” she said. “I was really determined, but I didn’t take enough days off, so my body didn’t have enough recovery time.
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“During races, the gun would go off and right away I would already be tired and the rest of the race was just a struggle to keep going, rather than just race.”
Needless to say, her goals had to change as she went from wanting to win a state title, to wanting to win a state team title, to just taking the lessons learned.
She ended up taking an entire week off during the cross country season, and then taking it easy for a month during the winter.
Despite all of that, Beauchene is back where she wants to be — racing for regional titles and setting up the chance to have state glory next weekend.
“Oddly enough, at the end of the day, I was totally satisfied because I had learned so much,” she said. “It re-lit my fire for track season. I was going to take what I learned to make this track season even better.”
Beauchene, who won the Class 3A regional title in the 3,200 on Friday, will race in the 1,600 and 4x400-meter relay today at Edgar Brown Stadium in Pasco.
She has never won a state title, though that statement is a bit disingenuous. She has gone up against some of the nation’s best distance runners — including Amy-Eloise Neale and Katie Knight, both of whom run for the Washington Huskies — and has steadily improved throughout her career.
“Megan, national-wise, is a way better runner than me,” said Kamiakin’s Ellie Heiden, who has won 10 state titles, “but just because in Washington we are known for distance runners and it is so good a lot of people misview (us) since I have won so many state titles.
“It is the luck of the draw. Megan is an awesome runner. I think she deserves 10 state titles moreso than I do. She is a phenomenal runner.”
After the exhaustion of the fall, there were some questions about whether she would be able to bounce back this year.
She is slowly getting her times back to where they have been in past seasons, and has hopes of going sub-4:40 in the 1,600, as well as breaking the school record she set earlier this year in the 3,200.
“Just having a chance to do it after what she has gone through is super exciting to me,” said Matt Rexus, Kamiakin’s distance coach. “I’d love to see her break through. Obviously, every kid wants to win a state title. I’m just glad right now, knock on wood, she seems to be healthy and seems to be in a place to do that.”
Beauchene has given up the 800, a race she ran at state twice, finishing second and third. The way the state schedule breaks down, though, running the 1,600 on Thursday, having an easy day Friday, and then running the 3,200 and 4x400 final on Saturday gives her the best shot at multiple state titles.
And if she wins one, the reaction from the Kamiakin coaching staff, other athletes and family will be pure jubilation.
“I just got shivers,” said Kamiakin track coach Cheryl Schauble when asked what it would mean to her. “That’s the thing to get. We have our team state title and that is so cool because everyone gets to share that, but she has had to compete against the nation’s best.
“She has always improved, but was always behind them. She was terrific and nationally ranked, but it was frustrating as a coach to watch. She worked so hard. She is dedicated. Does all the right things, and this year that could happen.”
Beauchene’s tremendous career has already earned her a full-ride scholarship to run cross country and track for the University of Washington — running with Neale and Knight.
Now she is hoping the miles she has put in and all the sweat and hard work will pay off with a trip to the top of the podium at Mt. Tahoma High.
“That’s definitely always been a goal for me. The epitome of your high school career is winning a state title,” Beauchene said. “It would mean so much, because I’ve never gotten one before.”
If things break right, she just might get three.
w Craig Craker: 582-1509; firstname.lastname@example.org