BY KIERAN RUANE
Hot off the back of three top five finishes in the first three races of her collegiate career, Lisa Baeten ’18 is making headlines all throughout the Midwest Conference.
After a first place finish at the Tom Barry Invitational on Aug. 30, which earned her MWC Women’s Cross-Country Performer of the Week honors, Baeten followed up with a second place finish at the Aurora University Invitational the following weekend to earn a second consecutive performer of the week accolade. To then round out her spectacular start, Baeten led the St. Norbert team and took fifth overall at the UW-Parkside Midwest Open, a race that included Division I and Division II athletes. While her success has been widely recognized, Baeten isn’t stopping to smell the flowers.
“My journey so far has been fun,” Baeten said. “But I’m looking more forward to the road ahead.”
A Luxemburg, WI native, Baeten has been running since she was in third grade, when her school started a running club that trained on Tuesdays and Thursdays. From then on she developed a love for running that continues to drive her today.
“Cross-country is my passion. Ever since I started running, I knew I wanted to be on [my] school’s cross-country team.”
This passion seems to be what fuels her as a runner. And looking at what Baeten has accomplished already in her short career at St. Norbert, it is not hard to believe that she was a highly sought after recruit during her time at Luxemburg-Casco High School. But while she drew attention from many schools, ultimately Baeten realized that St. Norbert was the place for her.
“My college decision wasn’t easy. It took me months to decide on where I wanted to further my education. When I was a senior in high school, I toured several colleges. Out of these colleges, I felt the most comfortable and secure at St. Norbert.”
She also adds that spending time with the team prior to her decision to attend St. Norbert had a big impact on her decision, as she states, “When I spent the night [at St. Norbert], I felt so welcomed by the team. They talked to me like I was running with them for years. I also loved how close everyone was on the team. I loved how the guys knew the girls and the girls knew the guys. I toured other colleges where some of those teams didn’t know, and didn’t really care about each other, but I found out that here at St. Norbert we are more than a team, we are family.”
Head Women’s Cross-Country coach Don Augustine is not only excited that Baeten made the decision to attend St. Norbert, but also with the early season achievements of this year’s squad. As of Sept. 16, the Knights were ranked sixth in the NCAA division III Midwest regional ranking. This is the highest ranking for St. Norbert in the history of the poll, and according to Augustine, Baeten’s success is what is contributing to the team’s success as a whole.
“Any time you have a lead runner that can score you a one or a two at a race, it helps the team’s score,” Augustine says. He adds, “We have as much depth in our top ten as we have ever had here. I think they are all gaining confidence from having Lisa around, and Lisa is building confidence knowing that there is a talented group with her.”
While the season is still young, the goals of this team are more than prevalent. Starting the year off bright, a Midwest Conference championship seems to be the light at the end of the tunnel for the Knights. And as for Baeten, while conference is also in her sights, she is looking even further than that.
Baeten has her sights on traveling to Mason, Ohio, the home of The 2014 NCAA Division III Women’s Cross-Country National Championships. Whether this is an achievable goal for Baeten is something that she and the rest of the team will discover as the season progresses.
As for her immediate goals, however, both her and Augustine agree that improving everyday is the main focus. If that can happen, there may be nothing that can stop this freshman phenomenon from reaching the top.