Melissa SweeneySenior Spotlight: Melissa Sweeney

Talented, humble, clumsy: five minutes with Melissa Sweeney and those three words are likely to come to mind. 

After qualifying only ten minutes behind a runner with ten marathons under her belt – on accident – Melissa realized her talent for marathon running.

“I wasn’t even trying to qualify,” she said. “But I want to make it to nationals again for the 10K or the marathon. I realize now that I can do it; it’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it.”

If past experience is any indictor, Melissa will achieve at nationals, strengthening her skills as a marathon runner, which she plans to continue after graduation.

“My time at NAIA nationals last year qualified for the Boston Marathon,” she said, “but I can’t run until I’m out of NAIA.” Qualifying for the Boston Marathon is a monumental goal for many, but even more so for Melissa, who initially qualified without any previous marathon training. 

After that list of achievements, it’d be easy to imagine Melissa as overconfident, but she talks about her accomplishments with humility.

Running after winter break last year, a blizzard came out of nowhere, forcing Melissa to finish her run in 20 below temperatures with her eyelashes frozen to her face. Slipping in the sudden ice storm, she broke her finger – a side-effect of her self-ascribed clumsiness.

Clumsy perhaps, but the story speaks much more to her dedication.

After RMC, the Deer Park, Wash., native plans to build upon her exercise science major with a graduate degree in kinesiology or nutrition, and of course, continue running.