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Borner finds balance

Marie Borner wouldn't go so far as to say her good health this past year at Bethel University has been a miracle, but it has been a blessing.

"I had these knee injuries that the doctors couldn't explain," Borner said. "I'd get X-rays and MRIs and everything and they just couldn't figure it out."

Borner, a 2005 graduate of Park High, was had serious knee pain in her first two years of college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. However, in her first year at Bethel University Borner has been relatively injury free -- which has allowed her to rewrite Bethel's record books.

Earlier this year Borner became just the second Bethel student athlete in school history to be crowned a national champion when she won the women's one-mile title at the Div. III Women's indoor championships at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, in March.

Most recently, Borner finished third in the 1500-meter finals at the NCAA Div. III Outdoor Championships in Oshkosh, Wis. at the end of May.

In the race, Borner finished as the third fastest runner in the nation in the event with a school record-setting time of 4:27.52, adding just one more bullet to an already impressive resume. With her performance, Borner has earned NCAA All-American honors in cross country, indoor track and field, and now, outdoor track and field.

In high school Borner's No. 1 goal was to run for a Div. I school. After some debate, she chose Wisconsin over the University of Minnesota.

However, once at Madison, Borner and the Division I lifestyle didn't quite gel.

"I don't know if it was just the Division I running or the styles of workouts or coaching that didn't coordinate with my body but I was injured all the time," Borner said. "My grades were slipping, too, because of all the running and going out all the time."

Toward the end of her second year at UW-Madison Borner made up her mind to move back to Minnesota and attend Bethel -- the school her older brother graduated from.

"I wanted to get a little closer to home," Borner said. "I really wanted the Christian atmosphere, too. I didn't really have many Christian friends at Madison, because it's just such a huge party school and it was really hard for me to get involved in things like that."

Before Bethel, Borner said all she cared about was running Div. I, but that quickly changed.

"Finally, for once in my life I put my faith and my education before running," she said. "I'm really happy I switched. I wish I would have went there in the first place."

Bethel is a Christian college with approximately 6,200 students from 48 states and 29 countries enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, seminary and adult education programs.

Borner said her faith has become much stronger in the past year.

"At Bethel you're on an all-Christian team, you pray before practice and your meets," Borner said. "It's really easy to have that fellowship with your teammates, which I never really had before. Going to Bethel was just completely the opposite of what I was doing. I've just loved it."

Jim Tipp, the head cross country, and outdoor and indoor track coach knew Borner could be successful if she could stay healthy.

"She works very hard and she's very talented," Tipp said. "The two aren't always part of the package. She has the desire, the ability and she is very consistent with her workouts. That's why she's good."

Tipp felt the fact that Bethel doesn't pound on its athletes every day has helped Borner become healthier.

"On our hard days we run hard, on our easy days we run easy," Tipp said. "When we put together a workout plan that calls for some really tough training it also calls for recovery time. That's how you improve. Some programs seem to put kids through the mill every single day of the week. A body can't sustain that."

Because of the injuries and the transfer, Borner's eligibility has gotten a little garbled. Next fall she will be a junior academically and a junior in cross-country, but will be a senior in both indoor and outdoor track -- if she isn't able to successfully get a year of eligibility back from a redshirt season at Wisconsin.

Either way, there's still time left to break more records.

"I'm just hoping to improve on my times," Borner said. "But, I am hoping to improve my place in cross-country, repeat my indoor National Championship and win the outdoor championships. That would be my ultimate goal."