Former GV runners qualify for Olympic marathon trials

Courtesy Photo / Bob Fitzgerald
Jeannette Faber in the 2010 NYC marathon

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / Bob Fitzgerald Jeannette Faber in the 2010 NYC marathon

Zach Sepanik

As kids, many dream about playing a professional sport or even representing their country in the Olympics. For a pair of former Grand Valley State University cross country standouts, the dream of becoming an Olympic athlete is within reach.

After strong performances in the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 9, Jeannette (Faber) Seckinger, 29, and Adrian Chouinard, 28, both qualified to participate in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on Jan. 14 in Houston.

“I ran my first marathon in the fall of 2004 in Chicago,” Seckinger said. “It wasn’t pretty at all. I ran 3 hours, 28 minutes. I hadn’t trained enough and just did it for fun. Over the years I have gotten more and more into the training. I went back to Chicago this year and improved by about 50 minutes. I feel I am the kind of person who likes to compete.”

Seckinger graduated from GVSU in 2004 with a degree in photography. She was a 2001 All-Great Lakes Region runner for the Lakers and has continued improving, as evidenced by her finish in the Chicago Marathon as the highest American female in the race. Her time of 2 hours, 36 minutes, 58 seconds earned her 10th overall in the women’s field.

Meanwhile, Chouinard, a member of the Lakers’ 2004 GLIAC championship team, finished 28th overall with a time of 2:45.36.

“First and foremost, we are happy for them,” said GVSU Athletic Director Tim Selgo. “You can’t do that unless you have worked really hard. To see Jeannette, or any of our other athletes, go on and achieve success beyond their careers here athletically, we are proud of them. Second of all, it is just a source of great pride that someone from GVSU is doing that.”

Since their time at GVSU, both have continued to improve running and have moved out west. Seckinger relocated to Portland, Ore., and Chouinard to Manitou Springs, Colo., but each have found a team or individuals to continue training with.

“Both were blue-collar and worked very hard,” said GVSU Head Coach Jerry Baltes. “They had great attitudes and were focused individuals, both in the classroom and running-wise, another reason I am not surprised that they are having the success that they are. Both were All-Americans for us while at Grand Valley and have really taken their running to the next level.”

In June, Seckinger competed in the USA Junior Track and Field Championships as prep to continue her pace for the Chicago Marathon. She finished 22nd in the 10,000-meter run with a time of 33:52.95. Even with the experience, she said she realizes the competition at the Trials will be stiff.

“I don’t have a great shot at qualifying,” Seckinger said. “There will probably be about 150 women in the race who have qualified and they only take the top-3. I would say right now I rank about 30th or so. I would be ecstatic if I finished in the top-10.”

No matter the outcome, Seckinger still has a positive outlook on what is ahead of her and said that getting back to training and staying competitive will only help in the future.

“If I continue to develop with my running, maybe I can be a contender in 2016 for a spot on the team,” she said. “For me right now, I am putting my life where I am at and how much further I have to improve in order to make the Olympic team. It is still an honor to run the Trials and be in the company of the women who are going to go on and run in London.”

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