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Making up for lost time

Negaunee alum Paupore shines at Central Michigan

Negaunee alum Emily Paupore (far right) poses for a photo with her Central Michigan University teammates at the MAC Championships in Bowling Green, Ohio Nov. 21, 2020. (Photo submitted)

MOUNT PLEASANT — Negaunee alum Emily Paupore may not have gotten one last time to shine on the track in the 2020 spring season, but she’s definitely been a bright spot on the Central Michigan University roster this year.

The freshman was an All-MAC (Mid-American Conference) Second Team honoree this fall during the cross country season and then also turned some heads during the indoor and outdoor track season. She admits moving downstate was a little intimidating, but probably the most worrisome part was wondering if there would even be a cross country season considering the COVID-19 pandemic was still raging last fall.

“I was definitely nervous that we weren t gonna have a season,” she said in a recent interview. “Actually, they canceled it right before we were gonna report back to campus. So after that, I was kind of disappointed because we’d been training all summer and everything. A few weeks into the season, my coach told us that the MAC was gonna run a few meets and we were gonna have our MAC meet. The season came back, we only ran three times, but it was really fun. Before indoor, I honestly didn’t think that we were gonna have indoor either. I texted my coach during the middle of winter because I was training and stuff and I was like ‘Do you really think we’re gonna have indoor? Do we still have it?’ And she was like ‘Yeah’ and I was so surprised. I really didn’t think we were gonna have it with COVID and everything, especially just being jammed in one building. I was more confident about outdoor I guess.”

Things worked out well in that regard, but that didn’t mean things were gonna be smooth sailing for Paupore during her freshman year as the competition is always tougher at the college level, especially in NCAA Division I.

“Cross country has always been my favorite sport, I really love it,” she said. “It was a 6K so that was a little bit of an adjustment and I only raced twice before. So I raced one 5K and one 6K and the MAC meet was a 6K, so I think that was a little bit intimidating. Just trying to figure out how to race a 6K because I feel like you run a 5K as fast as you can and then you just somehow make it through the 6K. Just facing the first MAC meet, there’s a lot of really good girls there. I came in thinking ‘Oh, maybe it won’t be that bad,’ but there are some really good girls and they are ready for the MAC meet. Like the MAC meet is really a big deal. So going to my first MAC meet, I was expecting a lot and I got Second Team All-MAC which I was super excited about. I went in and I was like ‘I’m gonna try to get top 7’ and I realized that ‘Oh my gosh, everyone was running really fast that day.’ So I was like ‘OK, I’ll just try to get top 15 and I’ll try to get All-MAC.’ I don’t know if I got 12th or 14th, but regardless, I scored in the MAC and I got All-MAC, so I was super excited about that. But it was definitely an adjustment just always having girls to run with and race. It s really exciting and competitive, so there’s a ton of girls going to first rounds (NCAA preliminary championships) in the MAC. It just shows the elite level of our conference.”

Then there was the track and field season, which was definitely a new experience for Paupore as there is no high school indoor season.

“At first, it is really a challenge to transition, I mean I ran during the winter, but I never trained hard during the winter, she said. “Just running in college, you’re training hard all year round. You don’t really have that, I wouldn’t say a break that you do in high school, but like, you’re not doing hard workouts every week. It was definitely a little bit of a transition. I did some indoor meets in high school, but not at the same level that they were in college. Just working out so much in college, I never got injured thank God, but it was definitely a little bit more of a challenge just for my body and stuff. I definitely had to focus on the little things and make sure that I was getting enough sleep and eating right and all this stuff to ensure that I didn’t get injured just because of the intensity of my training. Just training all winter long is hard.”

The outdoor season was also something new for her as Paupore got to run an event that she didn’t get a chance to compete in when she was at Negaunee.

“I love this outdoor season, it was so fun,” Paupore said.

“At the start of outdoor, I was supposed to race in Texas and we were doing a workout. And I was like five miles into the workout, so I don’t really know what happened, but we were doing just 200s after we did a tempo run and I pulled my hamstring kind of bad. And it was just a freak accident I think. So I rested it a few days and it was supposed to be a lot longer of a healing process, but our PTs were awesome about it and I healed in like four days and I was running again. So I did miss the Texas meet, but I feel like that actually set me up well for outdoor. I got to race in Virginia in the 10K, which is my first ever 10K and it was awesome. One of my teammates went and our coach and it was such a cool experience. I think just getting to race the 10K is something that I ve always wanted to do. In high school, I knew that might be one of my events. So it was awesome to get to race the 10K and the 5K.”

Another good experience for Paupore happened a few weeks ago, not with the Chippewas, but with the Miners as she got to help coach her hometown team for a bit.

“It’s so fun,” she said. “My mom (Vickie Paupore) does such a good job with the track program and I think after being an athlete and just seeing that, it’s so cool. She puts so much time into it and seeing her do it is just awesome. She’s just so supportive of every girl on the team and just coming back from college and just seeing her from a different perspective, I just see that now more than I did in high school. Just how much she really cares about all those girls.”

Being part of the Miners’ track and field season was a little bittersweet for Paupore since she missed out on her senior year, but she’s looking at it in a positive way.

“That’s what’s really hard for me is going back to high school and being like ‘I wish I would’ve had one more shot at everything.’ But I always try and think about it in the perspective of, if I would’ve ran in high school, I wouldn’t have had as much time to prepare for college and I might not be seeing the results I am right now in college if I would’ve ran an extra year of high school. I always try and look at it that way. It might not be how it actually works, but it makes me a little bit less sad about losing the season.”

Her high school career may not have ended the way she wanted to, but after her performance this year at CMU, it s clear that Paupore has a bright future.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.

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