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Seabury grad Gangnath works her way up XC ranks at Baylor

Chloe Gangnath, shown competing at the Big 12 cross country championships last October, most recently placed fourth among her Baylor teammates and 14th overall at the Abilene Christian University Naimadu Classic last Saturday. — BAYLOR ATHLETICS photo

Chloe Gangnath has never forgotten where she came from. Where she has reached is rare air for a Maui Interscholastic League graduate.

The 2018 state champion for Seabury Hall walked on at Baylor University three years ago and has consistently climbed the ladder to become a key member of the cross country team. She finished 73rd in the Big 12 Conference cross country championships as a freshman and 68th last year, both times running as a non-scoring runner.

Last Saturday, she was fourth among the Bears and 14th overall among 85 runners in the Abilene Christian University Naimadu Classic — she finished the 6,000-meter course in 23 minutes, 55.1 seconds.

“It felt great honestly, I was very happy with how that meet felt and it was nice to have a race where I could just build some confidence,” Gangnath said via phone Thursday. “I really trust my new coach (Dave Barnett) and all the training we’ve been doing, so it’s definitely just an indicator that everything is on the right track.”

Now, she is in range of a scholarship for the sport she loves.

“I would love to have the opportunity to, I think, improve to the point of having a scholarship,” Gangnath said. “The one thing about Baylor that I really liked when I was talking to the coach was that there’s such a history of people who walk on just becoming extremely successful through hard work and their focus.

“So, that is something that really motivates me to potentially earn a scholarship. Even though I’m not on scholarship, I’m endlessly grateful for all that my school’s athletic program provides for its student-athletes. They make my college experience and experience as a student-athlete just top tier.”

In addition to her state cross country crown, Gangnath was named The Maui News MIL Girl Athlete of the Year in 2018-19 after finishing her track and field career for the Spartans with state titles in the 800- and 1,500-meter runs.

Gangnath followed 10-time state champion Dakota Grossman and two-time cross country state champion Veronica Winham in the Seabury Hall hierarchy under coach Bobby Grossman. Dakota Grossman ran at the University of Utah and Winham is currently running at Dartmouth.

“Team-wise it’s great to be around a team of girls who are all just really passionate about running,” Gangnath said. “And I think coming from Seabury and coach Bobby I definitely learned a lot from him about what it takes to be competing at this level. … I felt prepared for it.”

Gangnath ran with current Seabury Hall senior Kaylee Volner, the state cross country runner-up as a sophomore in 2019, over the summer and keeps in touch with a lot of her former schoolmates.

Gangnath is honored to be an NCAA student-athlete at a Power 5 school.

“It’s definitely such a blessing and seeing just that there’s not so many people from Hawaii and Maui in college athletics … being in Texas specifically it’s definitely a lot fewer people from home,” she said. “Getting to kind of carry the torch for home definitely means a lot to me. It definitely is my motivation on a lot of days. I feel like I don’t want to let anybody down. And, I don’t know, I have to represent my home and my school and my team well.”

She wants to open doors for those behind her in the MIL.

“I hope that I am,” she said. “That would be amazing if people look at Maui more and MIL sports more recruiting-wise. Any time somebody I know is asking me about potentially doing athletics in college I’m always super eager to answer any questions or talk to them because it was definitely a foreign experience for me.”

She switched her major from pre-med to mathematics last year and is currently enthralled with a computer science class and is considering a change to that field of study.

“I know that there’s a lot of careers in tech and it seems to be where the world is going, so that’s kind of the field that I’m looking into,” she said. “As a math major, there’s a lot of options from the skillset that you gain. The problem-solving aspect, a lot of employers really like that.”

She has two years of eligibility in cross country after this season, four in indoor track and three in outdoor track.

“Depending on how this year goes I will consider grad school as an option,” Gangnath said. “Because I definitely love to compete and it would be amazing to get to do that for another year.”

Gangnath has a simple message to current MIL student-athletes.

“Just find as many opportunities as possible and reach out to coaches and definitely don’t limit yourself in where you’re looking for schools, also,” Gangnath said. “Because there’s so many schools all around the country who would love to have hard-working student-athletes. So, you just have to find the right fit for you.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com

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