Local runner signs letter of intent with Cleary University

Alpena High School runner Elaine Lowe has proven a lot in a short amount of time.

In the last two seasons, Lowe’s strong passion for running has made her one of the top runners on Alpena’s cross country and girls track teams. She’ll get a chance to continue fueling her passion at the collegiate level after she signed a letter of intent with Cleary University on Wednesday to run cross country.

“I’m really excited. I’ll continue to always run and just keep improving and try to get my time down,” Lowe said. “I knew I wanted to run after high school, I just didn’t know where I would run. I wasn’t too sure on where I was going.”

Lowe, who plans to study law, joins a program that just completed its first year of competition this past season. She sent an interest card to Cougars’ coach Sarah Boyle last year and Boyle kept tabs on Lowe as she entered her senior season. When Lowe visited Cleary, Boyle knew she would be a perfect fit and a key building block for the program.

“As soon as she came down for a visit and I met her and I knew her drive and ambition for running, I knew this was a girl I wanted on my team,” Boyle said. “As a coach it’s exciting. I think she has potential to make a great impact on our team, in upcoming years to be a leader and role model, just with what she’s done in high school and that she’s continuing to improve. I think she’ll be a huge component to our team as we grow.”

Lowe’s journey has not been without its share of adversity. In January 2010, Lowe was diagnosed with Stage II Hodgkin’s lymphoma and underwent aggressive chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Throughout her battle running provided an outlet and Lowe would often go for runs on days after receiving treatments.

In the past few seasons, Lowe has established herself as a key component of Alpena’s cross country and track teams. This past fall she earned first-team all-Big North honors in cross country and her time of 19:12 was one of the best girl’s times in school history. As a runner for the track team, she’s been a stalwart in the 1600 and 3200 runs, which can take their toll on even the most experienced runners. Lowe however, loves the challenge of running the one and two-mile races and has routinely gone beyond the 500-mile training benchmark that Alpena’s cross country runners try to reach during the summer.

In preparation for next year, Lowe has also been an important part of the Woods Track Club and is a two-time indoor track state qualifier. She’s qualified for this year’s state meet in the 1600 and 3200 runs as well as the 1600 and 3200 relays.

“She’s just incredible with the ability she shows. For really only doing this for two years, she’s got so much potential and she’s going to continue to get better and better,” Alpena girls track coach Collin Riffert said. “She’s always one that volunteers to run the distance races. It’s nice to have someone that’s not only good at it, but wants to do it as well.”

Lowe has impressed teammates and coaches alike with her strong work ethic during her time at Alpena and it’s paid off as she’s been able to reach a point that some four-year runners don’t reach.

“Having been sick her freshman year, sick her sophomore year, she really only has two years of solid running and training. I think it’s amazing, most kids work four years to get to this point,” Alpena cross country coach Joy Bullis said.