The first time Emma Langlois ran a 6-kilometer race this fall, she posted a 23-second personal-best time. However, it was less than 8 seconds from putting her name in the University of Miami record books.
When the Richmond-Burton graduate faced her last chance at a 6K for the Hurricanes’ cross country team this season, she didn’t flinch.
Langlois, a senior, was the top Miami finisher at the Atlantic Coast Conference championships Oct. 30 in North Carolina in 22 minutes, 4.7 seconds, earning her the No. 8 spot on the Hurricanes’ top 10 all-time cross country times list for that distance.
“It was definitely in the back of my mind since I was so close (in September),” Langlois said. “I had only missed (top 10) by a couple of seconds.”
Langlois placed 85th as an individual in a field of more than 130 runners, the best finish of her career. Her ACC time also was more than 18 seconds better than her season-opening effort.
“The weather ended up being extremely good,” she said. “The course was hilly, but it ended up being a fast race for how hilly it was.”
Running at sea level might seem like a disadvantage for Langlois and her teammates, but the Miami runners don’t see it as an obstacle when running in other regions.
“We have the advantage of coming from a place that’s really humid,” said Langlois, who also ranks No. 8 in Miami cross country history in the 5K. “We call it poor man’s altitude. You get a little boost from it. Everywhere else we go is way easier to breathe.”
In her career, Langlois has run everything from the indoor mile to the outdoor 5K.
“I even did a 4x400 (relay) one time,” she said with a laugh. “I was really a fish out of water on that one. I like the 3K a lot. That’s probably my favorite event.”
She plans to use her final year of eligibility next season as a fifth-year senior while taking graduate courses. Langlois will graduate this spring with a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology.
Thanks to her impressive cross country season, Langlois is excited for more opportunities in the outdoor season, which begins in March.
“I’m going to do the steeplechase,” she said. “I’m pretty excited. I’ve never done it before, but it’s 3K and there’s the barriers.”
The anticipation for the outdoor season is in sharp contrast to the emotions Langlois and her teammates felt in March when the NCAA canceled all spring championships in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were supposed to have an outdoor meet the next weekend,” she said. “Everyone’s world got turned upside down.”
Classes went online and athletes scattered. Langlois came home as coaches told the Hurricanes to train when they could but go easy on their bodies.
Without knowing when she would return to competition, Langlois said she focused on simple goals.
“You had to find a better balance of enjoying the everyday grind,” she said. “I got to know my body really well.”
She eventually worked her way up from 50 miles a week to more than 80.
“I would definitely say I’m in the best shape of my life,” Langlois said. “I’m a completely different athlete than I was in the spring.”
Curently, the outdoor season will include five in-state meets before the ACC championships in May. Of those five, Miami will host three and travel to the University of Florida for the other two.
Nobody is quite sure what the indoor track season will look like yet amid rising coronavirus cases nationwide.
She said the Hurricanes have an intrasquad meet planned in early December before athletes go home for holiday break. The first indoor meet is planned for Jan. 11-12 at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and the schedule includes only four competitions before the ACC championships in late February.
Langlois said the ACC benefits from having the resources to test athletes more regularly, larger facilities so athletes can be more spread out and the ability to travel privately on chartered planes and buses.
“I think it’s really possible,” she said of the indoor season. “If it’s going to happen anywhere, it’s going to happen in the ACC, the Southeastern Conference, maybe the Big Ten. It might just look a little different.”
Barry Bottino writes about local college athletes for the Northwest Herald. Write to him at email@example.com and follow @BarryOnCampus on Twitter.