“It’s instantly satisfying when you cross the finish line knowing that you did all the work that you need and it’s gotten you this far,” Stony Brook junior cross country and track star Christina Melian said.
Melian became the third Stony Brook Women’s Cross Country runner to qualify for the NCAA Championships. On Saturday afternoon in Louisville, Kentucky, she finished 143rd in the nation in the women’s six kilometer race, running a time of 21:08.9.
While nationals capped a standout season of her own for the junior, Melian was motivated by those who had been there before. Former teammates, including an Olympian in Lucy van Dalen, pushed Melian to continue to strive to achieve her goals.
“When I came in as a freshman my teammates really motivated me to do better,” Melian said. “I mean, we had Lucy van Dalen who went to the Olympics, we had her sister Holly, Olivia Burne.”
Melian has thrived during her time as a Seawolf, propelling her into becoming a leader, the type of person she looked up to when the runner got to Stony Brook.
“Now that I’m one of the upperclassmen, it’s my job,” Melian said. “[I have to] lead by example and show everybody what we are about.”
She consistently has outdone herself race after race, with her greatest success being competing in the NCAA Championships.
In 2014, Melian was named Second Team All-American in the women’s 5,000-meter race by the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
After coming in second place in Women’s 5K event at the America East Championships last season, she ran a time of 17:53.24 this year, a full 16 seconds ahead of second place runner, New Hampshire’s senior Laura Rose Donegan, to win the race.
“I think she’s continuing on the fine performances that she’s been doing all season,” head coach Andy Ronan said following her first place finish at the America East Championships in October. “It falls in line with what she’s been doing all season.”
Melian finished third in the women’s 6K race at Boston for the NCAA Northeast Regionals on Nov. 13. The Stony Brook junior ran a time of 20:29.5 to qualify for the NCAA Championships. She is just the third women’s cross country runner in program history to qualify for nationals.
Stony Brook’s star runner is just as motivated in the classroom as she is when running races.
“It’s so much easier balancing [my schedule] being that I’m running,” Melian said. “It helps me with my time management.”
The cross country runner believes that if not for the busy schedule that comes with being a college athlete, she would not be able to handle her workload as soundly.
She is a six-time Dean’s List honoree as well as a student ambassador for Stony Brook, representing the entire school.
For all of her accolades in athletics and academics, Melian is soft-spoken when discussing her achievements.
They speak for themselves, and despite her season ending in Louisville at the NCAA Championships, Melian’s fall achievements will be remembered as some of the best in Stony Brook history. The bad news for the rest of the country is that she will be back for her senior season and is likely to improve again as she has year after year.