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The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

The student news site of La Salle Catholic College Preparatory.

The La Salle Falconer

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Athlete of the Week: Melly Riel

Jasmine McIntosh
For junior Melly Riel, running on the cross country and track and field teams has taught her to have mental toughness and that “hard work pays off,” she said.

Training six days a week, junior Melly Riel has built a commitment to pushing her boundaries, both mentally and physically. “I’ve always been a super competitive person, and I’ve always just wanted to be the best at whatever I do,” Riel said.

Riel is on the cross country team and is also on the track and field team. In track, she runs the 1500 and the 3K. 

Before coming to La Salle as a sophomore, Riel lived in Jacksonville, Florida, where she started playing soccer in the second grade. When Riel came here, she chose to drop soccer and pick up a new sport: cross country, taking after her older cousin who used to run at La Salle. She recommends that other students should also not “be afraid to try new things because the worst that could happen is you don’t like it,” she said. 

Riel started running when she was still in Florida where she would do 5K races through her school and community. It was in one of these races where she did a “color run,” in which color bombs are thrown at runners at Jacksonville Beach. Although she has run many races since then, this continues to be the most memorable. Riel’s favorite courses during the cross country season include Meriwether Golf Club and Lewis and Clark. 

This season has been different from several of the previous ones due to the extra coaches this year. “We actually got really lucky,” Riel said. “We have four coaches this year, which has been super cool because I feel like they all bring a little bit of a different perspective.”

Also new to this season, during meets the team will write phrases or words on their arms to look at while they run. She says that these words remind her of her strength. “I’m stronger physically than I am mentally,” Riel said. “So, whatever I think I’m going through I can push a little bit harder, and a lot of the time it’s just that little bit that matters.”

Through running, Riel said that she has learned to work hard and use mental toughness to push through the challenges she faces, racing or otherwise. Riel trained with senior Lauren Baker and junior Maya Crimin, both of whom she looks up to. “I definitely look up to Lauren Baker because she’s been my training partner all year and we kind of just push each other a lot,” she said. “I also look up to Maya Crimin because she’s very good at running and I want to be very good at running.”

Over the summer, Riel estimated that she ran 330 miles, doing longer runs in parks when she had more time. During some of the cross country team’s runs, they go to a place they call “The Brewery,” a pond that got its name because “it’s just a really creepy pond and it looks like things are brewing in there,” Riel said.

Riel also participated in a summer camp specific to cross country running with her team. All of that training, coupled with in-season training, led to Riel running a 5K under her goal of 20 minutes: 19 minutes and 32 seconds. 

“I definitely pushed past boundaries that I thought I wouldn’t be able to break, so that was exciting,” Riel said.

While, overall, Riel feels that they had a really good team and season, she does say that “districts was probably the biggest letdown of the century for us.” The varsity girls lost by one point to Wilsonville, “but we’ll come back next year and get them,” she said. 

Looking forward to next year’s season, Riel wants the team to reach the potential she knows they can achieve. According to Riel, some strong teammates are graduating this year, but she believes that some sophomores proved themselves ready for the task of running on varsity. 

Her personal goal is to stay committed to her own training as well as continuing the support of her teammates, and she hopes that her team can win districts for the 2024-2025 season.

Riel has recently become interested in running at the collegiate level and also hopes to, overall, make running a consistent part of her life, both now and in the future. Someday, she hopes to run bigger marathons, one being the Boston Qualifier. 

“I always try to go for the highest level of anything, and that seems pretty high,” Riel said.

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  • J

    Joy HuwilerDec 1, 2023 at 12:51 pm

    That’s my Melly. She always strives to be the best, and helps others.

  • P

    Peter K. HuwilerDec 1, 2023 at 11:33 am

    Very proud of her achievement especially after telling her for a few years that she could be good in running. She has good form and a long stride. Grandpa Peter

  • G

    GISSELL REYESDec 1, 2023 at 11:21 am

    Proud of you Melly!!!