Feb. 23, 2012
Woodruff and ‘Cats look for title at MIAA championships
By David Boyce
A week ago, Northwest Missouri State sophomore Taylor Woodruff felt the physical pain as she neared the finish line in the mile run at the Central Missouri Classic.
Distance runners feel it all the time. There is a part of the mind, which begs the runner to stop so the pain will go away.
But that kind of thinking will never lead to a first-place medal.
Woodruff loves to compete. There was no way she was going to ease up. She went for the gold.
“I kept thinking positively to myself,” Woodruff said. “Even though it hurts, everybody else is hurting. I tried to keep a strong head and not to let down.”
Woodruff finished first with a time of 5:16.82, more than 12 seconds better than the second-place finisher.
It was a great performance for her heading into the MIAA Indoor Championships this weekend at Missouri Southern. The meet runs Friday through Sunday.
“I think it will help me with my confidence, but I know it will be tougher competition there,” Woodruff said. “I need to keep my head on straight. I need to aim for a better time and a competitive mindset.”
Woodruff is still in the early stages of her time as a student-athlete at Northwest, but she knows she made the right decision to attend college in Maryville.
Why is it even a question?
Well, Woodruff grew up in St. Joseph and graduated from St. Joseph Benton.
It is natural to ask why she picked Northwest over Missouri Western.
“For one,” she said, “Missouri Western does not have a running program. Northwest obviously does. Also, I wanted to be an education major. I heard Northwest has one of the better education programs in the area.”
Like plenty of college students with inquisitive minds, Woodruff is learning she has other academic interest outside of elementary education.
One thing that hasn’t change is how much she likes distance running at Northwest and her Bearcat teammates.
There are several talented runners in the group and they all push each other to do their best without being jealous of individual success.
“I love my teammates because we are so close but we are so competitive,” Woodruff said. “In practice, we don’t want someone to leave the group so we all push each other. It makes us push harder in meets. It makes us a well-rounded team. We are so supportive.”
The most exciting time of the indoor season is the MIAA Championships.
“I like it because it is a lot more competitive,” she said. “I feel like the team is hyped up because this is when you are supposed to run your best time. Everybody is cheering for each other. The sprinters and the distance people are cheering for each other. It’s a lot more exciting.”
Soon after the end of the indoor season, the outdoor season starts. The NCAA Division II National Indoor Meet is March 9-10 in Mankato, MN. The Bearcats’ first outdoor meet is March 15.
Although Woodruff likes the controlled environment of an indoor meet, she prefers the challenge of outdoor track.
“I just love the outdoor season because you have to worry about the cold, the rain,” she said. “It just seems more intense, and I like that.”
Being a member of the track team has been better than she thought when she made the decision to come to Northwest.
“I like it because a lot of the professors and other students who you don’t know will come up to you and tell you that you are on the cross country team,” she said. “It is really cool to get that recognition. I never expected that. A lot more people notice who you are than you really realize. The school really appreciates athletes here.”
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