Hoffman, Rupe thriving at GC

Cross country is more than pushing one’s body to ultimate limits, logging many miles during the offseason and finishing with more than a sense of accomplishment.

The kinship created through the years of struggles and triumphs makes that bond even stronger.

Heidi Hoffman and Brenna Rupe, 2016 McDonald High School graduates, knew the pain of working through the offseason. In the fall of 2014, the two reached the pinnacle of their sport as they were part of the Blue Devils’ Division III girls cross country state championship at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.

The two eventually ended their decorated careers at McDonald and headed to Grove City (Pa.) College. They’ve both run for the Wolverines, but the relationships they’ve made in the western Pennsylvania town has shaped their existence as both McDonald graduates head into their senior seasons.

“Honestly, it’s been the best years I’ve ever had,” Hoffman said. “I grew up in a public school, which was great. Having a Christian background at Grove City has helped me grow in my faith a lot.

“My teammates have made a huge impact. I really feel I have some of the closest friends. The friendships I’ve made at Grove City are definitely going to last a lifetime.”

Hoffman and Rupe are both education majors, doing their student teaching in the Grove City area this scholastic year.

Rupe said it’s been fulfilling for her to be surrounded by people who share her Christian beliefs.

“I can personally say all my teammates are some of the people I respect the most in my life,” Rupe said. “The guys team and girls team come together in that way.”

The two McDonald graduates have been roommates at Grove City for the past three years.

Hoffman said Rupe has been an inspiration in and out of the classroom.

“She’s somebody I look up to as being a Christian,” Hoffman said. “She’s pushed me and encouraged me to grow closer to God.”

The struggles have been there too.

Rupe had some last spring, trying to overcome some stomach issues that held her out of the outdoor track season.

The Wolverines welcome in a new track and field and cross country coach this season — Jessica Smith. She takes over for Sean Severson.

Rupe is one of 10 seniors on this year’s Grove City women’s cross country team and plans to be part that leadership contingent — making the transition for Smith as smooth as possible.

Rupe is a middle level education major, who eventually wants to work with a non-profit organization with children in the classroom. She is heading home after graduating in the spring of 2020.

“Being the oldest of four kids, I definitely want to be around to watch my siblings in high school grow up and everything,” she said. “I’d like to end up coaching cross country, track or basketball at some point.”

Hoffman, who ran with the team’s top five runners last season, plans to coach either cross country or track after college.

For now, it’s about running a 5K (3.1 miles) or 6K (3.7 miles) race for the Wolverines.

“I just want to make the best of it,” Hoffman said. “I have high expectations for the team. I think from high school to now I want to continue to push my teammates, grow with them and push them.

“Expectations-wise, I want to do the best I can. Ultimately, give the glory to God, be with my teammates and push them.”