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A history-making hour
By Derek Neice and Jeff Febus

Rachel BoernerWinning two national championships in one day is a feat that is believed to have never before been accomplished in NCAA track and field history. Next to impossible might be the words needed to describe doing it in one hour.

Calvin junior and women's track and field team member Rachel Boerner had just one hour of rest between her national title run in the 400-meter dash (54.50) and matching performance in the 400- meter hurdles (55.95) at the NCAA Division III national championships in Berea, Ohio. According to Boerner, she had plenty of gas left in the tank heading into her second event. “I was still running on adrenaline from the first race when I went into the blocks for the hurdles,” said Boerner. “I took a little time in between to work the lactic acid out, but I did not need a warmup for the hurdles. I was ready to go.”

The plan for Boerner to run both events was hatched just the weekend before the championships when Calvin head track and field coach Bret Otte discussed the idea with Boerner. “I was a little nervous about the idea,” admitted Boerner. “But I want to thank Coach Otte and the rest of our coaching staff for having the faith in me to run both races.”

According to Otte, a challenge was all Boerner needed. “Whenever Rachel has been pushed and been presented with a challenge she has thrived as an athlete,” said Otte. “I was confident that she would accept the challenge and rise to the occasion, and she did just that. I think everyone in our track and field program is immensely proud of Rachel, not only for what she did this weekend but for the way she carries herself and represents Calvin College.”

The national championships were actually the second and third of her career. She became Calvin’s first indoor national champion in the college’s second year of indoor track competition in winning the 400-meter dash (55.95) earlier this spring.

“What Rachel did this year is remarkable,” said Calvin first-year head track and field coach Bret Otte.“It started with the indoor season and continued right into the outdoor season. “

Boerner has a lot of gratitude for the track program at Calvin and a lot of respect for its history. “The track team wasn’t a huge factor in my coming to Calvin,” she said. “But now that I’m here, the people and the program and the coaches are so amazing, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world now.”

Otte returned the compliment: “Rachel is a joy to coach. The two things we focus on with our athletes every day as coaches are effort and attitude. Those are the two things an individual can control,” he said.

“With Rachel, her attitude and effort have always been top notch. She is not only talented, but is also driven to use the gifts God has given her to the best of her ability.”

A native of North Dakota, Boerner relocated to New Jersey after her sophomore year of high school. She spent her senior year of high school at the Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in Minnesota. Her brother-in-law, a Calvin alumnus, encouraged her to consider coming to Calvin for her undergraduate studies. Boerner liked Calvin’s Midwest location, and she followed his advice.

Boerner also liked Calvin’s astronomy program. In addition to her physics major, she carries a double minor in Spanish and astronomy, and, eventually, she’d like to attend graduate school to pursue medical physics.

“I’d like to work in a hospital someday,” said Boerner. “I have a strong interest in working in the radiation department, maybe in radiation imagery or some other facet.”

This spring, Boerner helped the Calvin women’s track and field team capture its 21st consecutive MIAA title. Calvin’s current streak of league crowns is the longest active championship streak in MIAA women’s athletics history. At the MIAA Field Day, she captured a league title in the 400-meter dash and was named the MIAA’s Most Valuable Runner.

“Rachel is a leader for our track and field and program on and off the field, and she does so by example,” Otte said. “She works hard in practice every day and competes with everything she has in her. Off the field, she studies hard and is willing to serve others in the community. Her teammates see that example and follow her lead which is very pleasing to see as a coach.”