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Crossing State Lines

Sept. 30, 2009

by Jon Cooper

ATLANTA — Following the trail in search of talent can run hot and cold.

The Georgia Tech women’s cross country team is benefiting from a hot streak on the road they took through South Carolina, one that over the last two years has netted star runners Mary Kate DuBard and Kate Borowicz.

DuBard, a sophomore, was legendary in her three years at Northwestern High in Rock Hill, where she was three-times an all-state choice in track and twice in cross country, was the 2007 Gatorade South Carolina Cross Country Athlete of the Year, and was only the second woman in state history to run a sub-five-minute 1,600 meters.

Borowicz, a freshman, also had impressive credentials; she was five-times an all-state pick in track, and four times all-state in cross country. She was two-time state champ in cross country, and named 2006 South Carolina Fastest Female in the 5K while at J.K. Mann in Greenville.

They found each other competing in state meets. That’s also where Tech women’s assistant Becky Megesi found them.

“In general, South Carolina has been putting more and more talented runners out there,” said Megesi. “It’s not like we haven’t recruited out of South Carolina before. We just didn’t generally have the success we’ve had with DuBard and Borowicz.”

That success was aided by Tech alumnus Joe Watkins (Class of ’65). Watkins, a 1974 inductee into Tech’s Athletic Hall of Fame, also was an assistant coach at Northwestern High and he helped lay the groundwork for recruiting DuBard.

“He had already been talking to her about engineering and so when we called, it was just like, ‘I was already thinking about that,'” recalled Megesi. “She fit the mold of the things that we look for to be successful at Georgia Tech. So I went up and she committed not too long after that. We were her first visit.”

It wasn’t really a hard sell.

“From the beginning, Tech made a really good impression,” said DuBard, who also visited N.C. State, Florida State and Tennessee. “Although I enjoyed going on other visits, in the back of my mind I knew I liked Tech the best.”

In the process of recruiting DuBard, Borowicz appeared on the radar. When the time came to recruit following the 2008 season, DuBard was a major bargaining chip in steering Borowicz toward Atlanta, serving as her host on the visit.

DuBard pretty much had Borowicz at ‘Hello,’ as Kate’s biggest concern was that choosing Tech seemed too easy.

“I sat and contemplated this decision for hours. I made lists, everything,” said Borowicz, who also visited Louisville, Florida State and Georgia. “From the beginning, when I came and visited here, I was like, `This is where I’m going to go.’ The other visits were just fresher on my mind. I think that’s why I was having such a hard decision. Knowing that Kate would be here was another good thing about coming here.”

They’ve become good friends and running partners and were practically joined at the hip in their first race of the 2009 season, the Crimson Classic on September 18, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Tech finished fourth as Mary Kate and Kate were 1-2 among Tech racers (both were scratched from the Tech/Georgia Dual Sept. 4 with the flu).

DuBard finished the five kilometer race in 18:08, 12th overall, and continued her streak of leading the team in every race in which she’s participated, while Kate ran 18:24, finishing 16th overall.

“We were all pleased in how we did,” said DuBard, who is looking to build on her freshman season, when she was named to the All-ACC Academic Team and earned All-South Region at the NCAA South Regionals. “One girl had to drop out so with her scoring. We probably finish a little higher, but we were all pleased to start the season on a good note.”

“I was a bit overwhelmed at first because of the whole atmosphere of being a collegiate runner,” said Borowicz. “Starting off, I felt really strong and I stuck with Mary Kate. I tried to stay with her. I never finished that high up time-wise in my first race in a season, ever. I guess 16th overall is a good start. So I would say I’m pleased.”

Megesi is eager to see what transpires with the duo this Friday at the Great American Cross Country Festival in Cary, N.C.

“They’re still coming around,” she said. “I think that with one race underneath their belt, they’ll both feel more at ease and kind of get into the groove. We’ll see them get even better.”

Can the same be said for the next recruiting trip to South Carolina?

“I would love for it to be a pipeline to Tech but you never know,” said Megesi, adding with a laugh, “All kids are different and they want to study different things and at Georgia Tech we only study things that are hard to study.”

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