This article appeared in the Chelmsford Independent on August 27, 2008 and was written by Stephen Tobey.
Just a few short years ago, Meghan Curran went through one of the most stressful things a recent high school graduate can do of their own volition.
“I was definitely a little unprepared,” said Curran, a Chelmsford High graduate about her first year at the U.S. Military Academy. “I was kind of a little flustered and blindsided, but there’s always somebody there to take care of you. And everybody has to pay their dues.”
In her time at West Point, Curran has paid her dues, not only as a Cadet, but also as a member of the school’s cross-country and indoor and outdoor track teams. This fall, she is a captain on the cross-country team. Last season she was twice named Patriot League Runner of the Week and as a sophomore she earned league all-star honors after placing seventh at the conference meet.
“I’ve improved a lot,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot more about the sport and how to train, especially while balancing it with life in the classroom. Running is a preset part of my schedule and it’s allowed me to improve a little bit every year.”
In addition to the team training, Curran has had to take part in the physical training that everyone at the school is required to undertake.
“As a senior, I have to take up a lifetime sport and I’m taking golf,” Curran said. “I’ve had to take a swimming class, a combatives class and a class in military movement. When I was a freshman, I took those three classes. The coaches are very understanding about it.”
Unlike at many Division I schools where the athletes are kind of in their own world, at West Point, they’re a part of the general student body.
“We’re integrated into the Corps of Cadets,” Curran said. “We practice three or four hours a day, but it’s great being an athlete. It’s another opportunity to prove myself as a leader.”
In college, cross-country teams don’t have as many meets as high school teams, but they do train a lot more. Curran has been on campus since Aug. 14, getting ready for the season-opening Army Open on Friday.
“In high school, you race twice a week, with a dual meet during the week and a big invitational meet on the weekends,” said Curran. “In college, it’s mostly big meets, but we also have a dual meet against Cornell and another one against Navy.”
As a three-season runner, Curran goes from cross-country to indoor to outdoor track with little break in between the seasons.
“We have about three weeks between the cross-country and indoor seasons,” she said. “There’s no break between the winter and spring. I like cross-country the best, but I also like outdoors because I’ve started running the 10k [kilometers] and I enjoy that.”
Her focus is on cross-country at the moment and her goals are primarily team goals.
“We’d like to keep improving and beat Navy,” she said. “We haven’t done that since our freshman year. We also want to do better in the Patriot League meet. It’s going well so far. We have a good freshman class and our sophomores are doing well. This is the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
After graduation, Curran will begin her career as an Army officer. In October, she’ll find out what she will be doing next year.
“It depends on class rank,” she said. Curran’s father, Tom, was an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and he inspired her to pursue a similar career path.
“He always explained what being in the military meant to him,” Curran said. “I was looking at some ROTC programs, but I saw the camaraderie the Cadets shared and I wanted to be a part of that. I’ve always had a desire to serve my country.”