Seymour senior chooses Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College


For The Tribune

Claire Loebker listed several reasons why she chose attend St. Mary’s of the Woods College to study nursing and continue her running career.

She attended elementary school in Terre Haute, she has competed in the girls’ state high school championships on the LaVerne Gibson Course, which also happens to be the home course for St. Mary’s, and her older sister, Rachel, also attended St. Mary’s.

On Wednesday, the Seymour High School senior announced her plans to attend the college in Terre Haute.

“I applied and I got to take a visit, and I really enjoyed the size of the school, and the students and all the surroundings and how pretty it was,” Loebker said. “I really liked it.”

Loebker is going to St. Mary’s for cross-country, but said she is hoping to get involved with the track program.

Loebker wants to work hard to get in shape for track this spring and to carry that over to cross-country at St. Mary’s.

“I just want to push myself on the event I can do my best in,” she said.

Spencer Sunbury, the girls cross-county and track coach at Seymour, feels Loebker can succeed at St. Mary’s.

“I think that is such a good fit for her, the smaller community,” Sunbury said. “She will be one that will really get involved in the whole experience of college and really take it for what it’s worth. She will just grow and grow.

“She’ll be happy in her general life and I think it will make her a stronger runner as well. She will definitely be a contributor.”

At Seymour, Loebker has been a consistent runner for the Owls.

“She was solid in the top three or four runners for us,” Sunbury said. “She’s had a lot of ups and downs. She would start working her way up there and then something seemed to sideline her a little bit, so she would drop back a little bit, but she would always find her way back up.”

Over the years, Sunbury has seen Loebker grow as a runner.

“I remember her freshman year, we were so excited to get her, she was exactly what we were missing, another solid runner in the top three or four runners,” Sunbury said. “We had some older runners that had some issues during the summer and weren’t quite in shape, but they were starting to get in shape and starting to catch her, and she was starting to get discouraged.

“We had to sit down and talk to her and tell her she was doing fine: These girls are starting to run where they’re supposed to be. She settled into the position she was running at the time. We get up to the state meet and she didn’t look back at what she had done or hadn’t done. She looked at what she needed to do that day and she came out and had one of the best races I’ve seen one of our runners run at state.”

Sunbury said Loebker’s hard work translated to the big meets.

“Every year we got to the state meet, three years in a row, she always seemed to have a big run up there,” Sunbury said. “ One year she sat almost a month with an injury, and we held her out of sectional, regional, semi state, until we ran her in the state meet, and it was one of her best races of her career.

“That’s the kind of athlete she is. She was definitely a runner we needed in our program her freshman year. She was always someone you could count on with her, with the team. She was always a solid runner for us.”

Loebker missed parts of her track and cross-country seasons because of a back injury and stress fractures in both feet.

Her career-best time was the 19:27 she ran her sophomore year.

Sunbury said this spring he hopes Loebker continues to get stronger.

“She had a big setback last fall, but she had a pretty good cross season this season with another little setback in there,” he said. “I don’t think she felt like she got as far as she wanted and I’m looking for her to get stronger and build a little more of that confidence, understand that she is going to be all right. She’s got more there to do.”

Zach Whitkanack, the head men’s and women’s cross-country coach at St. Mary’s, said he is eager to have Loebker join the program.

Whitkanack, who is beginning his second season as cross-country coach said, “We’ve got a good group of freshmen coming in. We’ve got five recruits coming in, very competitive about the same times. Claire has some of the better times so far.

“She is very consistent so when she’s healthy we know she’s really tough so we’re looking for her potential and what she can do for the program. That (Laverne Gibson) is the course we use as our home course so she’s used to the course and we know that she’s very strong academically, which is always a main focus of ours as well.”

No posts to display