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Moreno and Young garner All-American honors at Cross Country Nationals

The Vincennes University Cross Country sophomore duo of Meagan Moreno and Kyra Young capped off an impressive 2020 season with All-American honors for placing in the top-15 at the NJCAA DI Women’s Cross Country Championships in Fort Dodge, IA.

“I was more proud than surprised,” Moreno said. “I knew that was my goal this year and I came into the race as best prepared as I could be. I knew I was able to get Top 10 or Top 5 but didn’t expect to get Top 3.”

“(Being an All-American) feels pretty good. I’ve never been an All-American before,” Kyra Young said. “I was very happy with my accomplishments. I worked really hard and coach Gafner said I might make All-American and he was definitely right.”

“One of the things that came together for Meagan and Kyra this year was consistency,” VU Cross Country coach Chris Gafner said. “Both Meagan and Kyra did a tremendous job over the summer, in their summer training and working on their own before they ever got VU for practice.”

“That makes such a huge difference in Cross Country,” Gafner added. “To come in, at that level, where they are already in shape and have a higher level of fitness, so we just had to focus on building on that.”

Moreno came away with First Team All-American honors for her third place overall finish just two weeks after winning the Region 24 Individual Championships.

“I would say my focus this year really was the best change that helped me get to this point,” Moreno added. “I have had my eyes on schools at the next level for a while now and after last year, I knew I had to push even harder.”

“I increased my mileage with the help of coach. Coach Gafner sometimes had me run with the guys and I think that helped me a lot this year so I wasn’t alone pushing myself every day.”

“Also I think the Athletic Trainer Hali has helped me a lot getting through small injuries this year in my back to avoid bigger ones that would potentially ruin my season,” Moreno said. “I went to her almost every day this year after almost never last year and I think that really helped me stay 100 percent.”

“Last year with Meagan, we had several days we had to take off because of nagging injuries and we cut down on those quite a bit this year,” Gafner said of Moreno.

Kyra Young received an All-American Honorable Mention for her 11th place finish, which is a significant improvement from her 91st place finish a year ago.

“Last year I just didn’t work as hard. This year I had a personal trainer and I think she really pushed me and really helped me,” Young said. “I’m hoping that next year I can do even better and get to where I’m at again.”

Young and Moreno have served as the sophomore leaders for the No. 10-ranked Trailblazers, leading by example, not only in competition, but in preparation as well.

“If I had to give advice to a freshman who wants to become an All-American, I would probably say consistency is key,” Moreno added. “I’ve always believed that is the No. 1 key to improvement in Cross Country. You also have to ask yourself how bad do you want it and set a goal.”

“I wanted to get All-American honors this year and I knew it was all on me to make it happen and push myself every day,” Moreno said. “If you really want it, you can make it happen if you have the right mentality.”

“My advice for my freshmen teammates is just keep working hard and put all your effort into what you’re doing,” Young added. “Just do what your coaches tell you and just follow the workout schedule that he puts you on.”

“They both stepped up in the leadership department this year,” Gafner said of his sophomore runners. “I think just leading by example, the kind of work they put in in our workouts. Both Meagan and Kyra really push in workouts, they leave it all out there.”

“They don’t even know how to go slowly, so when I’d try to get them to back off a little bit, it’s hard, because they just have that mentality that they are really going to push themselves,” Gafner added. “It really helps for the freshmen to see that, to see what it takes to be that good and to get this kind of result too, just to see how much that pays off.”

Moreno and Young now turn their attention to the spring semester and the beginning of Indoor Track & Field season.

“I think heading into track season, both Meagan and Kyra are going to be motivated to repeat and try to be All-Americans in track as well,” Gafner said. “What I’m hoping is, especially for the freshmen at this point, is that they can see how far Meagan and Kyra have come from their freshmen years. The strides they made and the improvements that they made and that that’s possible for them as well.”

“From a recruiting stand point, that’s something that I can not only say to them but show them as well,” Gafner said. “Here’s where they were and here’s where we got to. If you come in and you work hard and you’re coachable, anything is possible and we can really reach some big goals.”

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