Four years ago Seton Hall cross country head coach John Moon recruited Mary Migton of Roxbury High School. She had been named to the first team all-country team and second all-state team in 2009. Then in 2010, she was named the Female Scholar Athlete of the Year for her high school. When Moon recruited the Ledgewood, N.J., native, he said she was an elite athlete. Since her arrival at SHU she has continued to strive as an athlete and person, setting the standard for women’s cross country.
“She helped mold the program in all the four years she’s been here,” Moon said. “She means a lot to the program.”
Migton is one of two seniors on the women’s cross country roster and has found herself thrust into a leadership role, though it’s a spot she’s used to. She served two years as team captain of her track and cross country team at Roxbury, and served as a tri-captain in her sophomore and junior seasons with the Pirates. This season she returned as captain, a role her coach says she fell into naturally. For Migton though, it’s about sharing her passion with others.
“I enjoy and am expected to be a leader,” she said. “I like to lead by example and share my passion for the sport and share a hard work ethic with the girls.”
She has been coached all four years by long-time head coach John Moon, an opportunity she called “incredible.”
“He was the reason I came here,” she said. “He’s coached world-class athletes, from the World Championships to the Olympics, and I'm so lucky to have him coach me too. He cares about us as people too and knows how to get the best out of us.”
In Mighton’s case, that has without question proved true. Last season as a junior, she scored in all nine meets for the blue and white. She also finished with the fastest time for the Hall in the 5K, at the Big East championship she clocked a 24:15 time and finished the year off clocking an 18:41.2 time at the ECAC championships in the 5K that earned her 12th place and a medal.
Her sophomore and freshman campaigns were headlined by top-three finishes for the Pirates in eight of her nine meets on the season as a junior and being named a Big East Academic All-Star as a freshman.
This year the team captain has started the season strong, finishing inside the top-10 at the St. John’s/Hofstra Fall Festival. Her efforts helped the Hall finish first in Oakdale, N.Y. In the Pirates’ recent meet at the Embry-Riddle Asics Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla., Migton finished the women’s 5K with a 20:29.66 time and a 12th place finish.
Her summers are spent training, following workout plans and working with others to help push herself. She knows that a strong summer can lead to a big season.
“Your summer training determines if you’re going to have a breakthrough season or not, so I try and really push through it in the summer,” she said.
Her emphasis this summer was more on her quality of runs—not just the miles. And there’s coach Moon keeping in touch with her every summer to see how she’s doing and has already seen the results carry over into the season.
“She was ready this year to really drop some times,” he said.
Even as an elite athlete and leader for her team, Migton has a clear idea of what lies ahead for her academically. A speech-language pathology major, she will graduate in May, though she won’t be leaving the Hall as her next chapter in her life includes Seton Hall graduate school as she continues to search for her passion in her field.
“I just want to figure out where I can help people the most,” she said.
As a student, she says she has a lot to be grateful for as they have helped increase her student experience.
“The education professors, especially Dr. McFadden and Dr. Zinicola, have been a big part of my positive student experience here,” she said.
She knows that attending grad school at Seton Hall will offer her the luxury of cheering on her teammates, who she finds herself referring to as family. Coach Moon knows he’ll still help and coach her along the way as she will continue to run for a club program, but there’s still parts of being a Seton Hall athlete she’s going to miss.
“I’m going to miss waking up every morning and running with my best friends,” she said. “I’ll miss my parents always coming to support me at the meets, rain or shine. They even bring our poodles sometimes.”
There is though, a lot that Migton says she takes away from her time as an athlete—and can use to help her move forward in her future endeavors.
“It’s working for something bigger than yourself,” she said on what she takes away from being an SHU athlete. “It’s working for my team, my coach, my school—being a part of something so special.”
Neal can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @nealmchale.