Fresh off a personal best at the NCCAA (National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association) championships last weekend, Regan Mullen is poised for another record: she’ll become the first-ever Colorado Christian University runner at the NCAA Division II Championships in Joplin, Missouri, this Saturday.
The freshman has already been named RMAC (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) Freshman of the Year and earned First-Team All-RMAC honors. “Those are such blessings,” said Mullen, “I give glory to God and to my team, because cross-country is not an individual sport.”
“Those accomplishments are satisfying, but I also feel humbled by them.”
For a runner who only ran cross-country for two years in high school -- her freshman and senior years -- Mullen has met with rare success. She admits to feeding off of her teammates’ energy during a race, and says that, despite her accolades, “There is hardly any pressure because of how the team cares for each other. There are definitely nerves, but there is no pressure. It helps me run because there’s no weight on me.”
Mullen and her teammates also had to overcome a coaching transition to begin the season -- something she asserts brought everyone together. “There was raw energy and no need to perform to expectations,” Mullen said. “That time set a tone for the season.”
To qualify for nationals, Mullen had to stand out at one of the regional meets across the country where individual runners can earn a bid even if their team does not. Mullen qualified as one of the top runners in the South Central Region, one of the strongest cross-country regions of the country.
“Words can’t express how proud we are to have Regan represent us at Nationals,” commented Darren Richie, director of athletics at CCU. “For as good as she is in competition, Regan stands out as a young woman of humble character.”
After setting a personal record at the NCCAA championships in Ohio, Regan hopes to up the ante and earn another PR on Saturday. The low altitude of Missouri will help, as will her training. She describes each race as broken into thirds. The first third is strategic -- she runs with her mind. During the second third, she relies on her training. And the last third she runs with her heart. “That’s when you remember you can shine. When you’re exhausted, it’s humbling because you’re giving your all.”
As a freshman competitor who will be racing more experienced runners, Mullen exhibits a surprising amount of equanimity. “The nerves won’t kick in for a while,” she explains. “In all honesty, I just take things day by day.” But, she does admit to thinking ahead. “I have a lot of faith and hope and prayer for Saturday, but I can’t control what happens.”
While her competition may not agree, it’s that relaxed attitude that has helped Regan get to where she is today.