Now, perhaps more than ever, Maggie St. John ’24 knows that time and place matter.
“Keene State allowed me to find a community and rediscover my passion for running,” Maggie says. “If I hadn’t transferred, I don’t think I would have run again. I can’t imagine my life now without it.
The Keene State senior — a health sciences major, transfer to UNH and native of nearby Hinsdale — qualified for the NCAA Division III cross country championships on Saturday, the first Owl runner since 2015 to achieve this feat.
She has refined her career focus, looks forward to graduate school and says cross country fuels all of her competitive fires. Maggie isn’t sure how her field of study will translate career-wise, but the subject is “my passion” and offers many career opportunities. She will live in warmer climates, she said, and she is sure of it.
Maggie transferred from UNH after her freshman year of college, but did not run cross country as a sophomore. She left her major in biology to pursue a new option, health sciences, focused on population and community. She will also graduate with minors in biology and addictions.
Its major is part of the College’s interdisciplinary program health sciences program rooted in the liberal arts.
When she returns to the course, competing, she will aim to become the first Owl since 2011 to achieve All-America status. To do that, she’ll need a top-40 finish at the NCAA event on Nov. 18 in Newville, Pennsylvania.
Maggie earned her spot in the race with a 14th-place finish at the NCAA East Regional on November 11, where she ran the 6K course in 22 minutes, 22.24 seconds, passing a handful of runners during the final third of the race. race to hit her. ticket to the NCAAs.
The top seven individuals from the regional competition, once qualifying teams were chosen, earned a national bid.
“Maggie’s run to qualify went as expected and she fought for every inch of the course,” said her Keene State coach Dan Roark.
However, Maggie and her coach had to wait for the official announcement on Sunday for the free places.
“We knew the goal was to get into the top 15,” Roark said. “The race was the same 2,000 meter loop, three times. As she completed the final loop, you could see in her eyes that she was emptying the tank and fighting to reach her goal.
Roark added: “Maggie always strives to give 100% effort in all aspects of her life, but does so in a very small way. With her small size, she can sometimes be physically neglected, but she stands out in a positive way with her dynamism. His ability to not have a bad day and to be humble are his superpowers.
Her NCAA qualifying run didn’t come out of nowhere. Maggie led the Owls to their second straight Little East Conference team title a week earlier, finishing second overall for the second year in a row to earn all-conference honors.
In high school, Maggie was class valedictorian, class president, and National Honor Society student. As an athlete, she set school records in the 400 meters, 800, 1600, 3200, 5 km and 4×800. She also helped lead the school’s basketball team to a Division IV state title.
Everything went well, said Maggie, who commutes to class 30 minutes from her hometown. The smaller campus, classes and connections she made as a student-athlete were transformative.
Maggie didn’t run as a sophomore because she thought she was done with the sport and gave it up during COVID-19. It wasn’t until one of her high school teammates and good friends, Kailyn Fleury, was considering joining the team as a freshman that she convinced Maggie to train with her over the summer and join the team.
Another Hinsdale resident, Juliana Yialiades ’24, is also on the team.
“Finding a group that you can fit into and rally around makes a difference,” Roark said. “As soon as Maggie joined the team, she had a whole crew of friends. As a second time transfer student, I think you have a better idea of what is important in the college journey and can focus on those things.
The cross country program, Roark said, includes traditional freshmen, transfer students looking to join the team and strong athletes who, perhaps like Maggie, are looking for their place on campus.
It’s not unusual to welcome transfer students into the program, Roark said. “I think our coaching staff does a great job understanding transfer students because most of our cross country and track and field coaches have been through the transfer process themselves.”
Maggie’s drive and determination have always been part of her nature, she said, crediting her family and her younger brother in particular for always being there for her. “Hard work pays off, in school and in running,” she says. Results don’t just happen, you earn them, and being supported and encouraged helps.
“College worked for me. My senior year is incredibly different from my junior year. You don’t have to know what you want to do when you start, but you will grow and discover your true interests and passions. I did it.”