Lauren Rinehart

Lauren Rinehart poses with her family at her signing ceremony on Thursday. Rinehart will attend Marian University to continue her academic and running careers.

ZIONSVILLE – It took her a little while to find her right college fit, but Zionsville senior Lauren Rinehart found it close to home.

Rinehart will run cross country and track at Marian University starting in the fall. She had a signing ceremony on Thursday at the high school.

“I’m very excited,” Rinehart said. “It has been a long process, trying to figure what I want to do. I think I found a really good fit in Marian, and I am excited to go there next year.”

Rinehart plans on studying nursing with the hopes of becoming a nurse practitioner in the oncology department.

She said Marian was the perfect mesh of academics and athletics.

“I liked balance between nursing and running,” Rinehart said. “That is obviously a hard major to try and balance with sports, but they were really supportive of that. I am excited to go there next year.”

Rinehart has been a key member of the Zionsville cross country team the past two seasons, helping the Eagles to back-to-back runner-up finishes at state.

During her three years in track, she has podiumed at outdoor state three times, and won the Hoosier State Relay title in the 3,200-meter relay in 2018 while at Brownsburg and 2019 at Zionsville.

She said that in college, she will probably focus on the 800 and 1,500-meter runs, but may dabble in the steeple chase as well.

“I love the team aspect (they had at Marian),” Rinehart said. “That is something that is important to me.”

The past few seasons haven’t been kind to Rinehart on the injury front, but she has battled her way through injuries to help the team.

She said that while the injuries can be frustrating, she has learned a lot about herself as she has had to fight through them.

“Learned a lot about myself through running and through life,” Rinehart said. “It’s nice to have a team that supports me through everything. That has gotten me through it.”

As she gets ready for her final prep season, she said she has some goals for what she wants to accomplish this winter and spring.

“I would like to have a great finish at state,” Rinehart said. “The past few seasons haven’t been great for me, and I just want to be able to compete the best I can.”

Rinehart spent her first two years of high school at Brownsburg before transferring to Zionsville, but from the way she clicks with the team you would never know it.

Rinehart said she knew of a lot of the girls on the Eagles’ squad, but didn’t really know them.

But added the transition was really easy, and everyone at Zionsville was very welcoming.

She said one of the things she will remember the most about being a Lady Eagle is how dedicated coach Suzanne Rigg is to all the girls on the team.

“Coach Rigg is the best coach in the nation for high school runners,” Rinehart said. “She is so dedicated to the team in everything she does and always looking to learn something new about the sport. They create an atmosphere here that just incorporates everything you want in a team. Everyone wants to do their best, no matter where they are on the team.”

Will Willems is the Sports Editor of the Zionsville Times Sentinel and Lebanon Reporter. Follow him on Twitter @Will_Willems.

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