Meagan Lowe: Buchanan Alumni and Oregon State runner looks back on her successful high school career

Buchanan High School alumni and track athlete Meagan Lowe. PHOTO COURTESY OF MEAGAN LOWE/TWITTER

In her four years at Buchanan, she has led her teammates by example, broken school records and helped bring home the first state title in the school’s girls track and field history.

Now, Meagen Lowe is moving on to the next leg of her life’s journey.

A multi-sport athlete, Lowe has competed on both the girls cross country and girls track and field teams for four years at Buchanan, helping her team to win the first girls State Championship in track and field in the Central Section since Bakersfield High School in 1990.

During her time at Buchanan, Lowe set a school record as a junior in 2018 in the 1600m event with a time of 4:47.87, a time she later beat in the 2019 State Championship. She was also a member of three school record-setting relay teams for both the 4×800 and the 4xmile events in 2018.

At the 2019 State Championship meet hosted at Buchanan, Lowe earned medals in two events, including her personal-best run in the 1600m with a time of 4:43.61, which earned her a second place finish and set a new school record, and the 3200m with a time of 10:18.97 for a third place finish.

These times accounted for 14 of Buchanan’s points at the state meet and combined with performances from senior Shelby Daniele and junior Corie Smith, as well as the rest of the team, to earn the Buchanan team a total of 50 points at the meet, beating the next closest school by a 22-point margin.

Buchanan track and field head coach Brian Weaver called the State Championship one of the greatest team performances he has ever seen.

Lowe’s effort at the State Championship earned her recognition for the top California Girls Track Performance of the Year by MileSplitCA.

Her second and third place finishes not only demonstrate her versatility competing in multiple distance races, they were both accomplished on the same day.

This range of ability to compete in multiple races is a quality Lowe admires in one of her running heroes, olympian Shelby Houlihan.

Houlihan has competed professionally in track races from 800m to 5000m.

“I really enjoyed every race. So I think it’s really cool to have that kind of range,” Lowe said.

Lowe has competed in races from 400m to 3200m this past year alone, a rare versatility for a distance runner.

In June, Lowe competed in the Brooks PR Invitational at Husky Outdoor Stadium in Seattle, Washington, where she earned the top spot in the California state rankings in the 2-mile event with a time of 10:34.05, good for a sixth-place finish.

Now that her time at Buchanan has come to an end, Lowe is excited for what is to come next.

She has committed to attend Oregon State University, which was one of four potential universities she visited during a three-week period this past winter.

Lowe said she crammed all of her college tours into just a three week time frame in order to minimize her time away from her team.

“During cross country season, I had my visits set up but I didn’t think about them because I had to focus on cross country,” Lowe said. “Then I made my decision and I was like, ‘OK, don’t think about it. I have to focus on track.’ So now it’s finally like this is the thing to focus on and it’s pretty exciting that it’s here now.”

Lowe said she chose Oregon State over schools with a more established running team, like the University of Oregon and the University of Colorado Boulder, because she wants to be part of building a culture of success in an up-and-coming program.

“I like that, I want to be a part of a team that we’re the first people to do it,” Lowe said.

At Oregon State, Lowe will be running for head coach Louie Quintana, who started at the school in 2017 after a 16-year career at Arizona State, where he helped the program become one of the best in the country.

Lowe said that Quintana, who has coached a number of Buchanan athletes when he was at Arizona State, was a significant factor in her overall college destination decision.

“In the beginning you talk on the phone and just talk about running and their coaching style and their program and stuff like that,” Lowe said. “But then we would keep talking and venture off into other things. We could have a flow of conversation, and I could tell that he cared about me as a person as well as a runner.”

Her new school in Corvallis, Oregon, will be the farthest Lowe has ever lived from Clovis, having grown up in the same house since she was 2 years old.

“I haven’t really done much moving around, so this is a pretty drastic move. I’m really going to miss my people here, my family and my coaches,” Lowe said. “But I’m trying to look more at the positives and starting this next chapter.”

Lowe plans to major in psychology at Oregon State and is considering a minor sports fitness or nutrition with the goal to pursue something in the field of sports psychology.

“Analyzing other people’s minds is super fun for me,” Lowe said with a laugh. “I took psych this year and I loved it. Running is a very mental sport. So I’m already kind of in that, in focusing on my mindset a lot.”

With just about a month before she has to report to Oregon State, Lowe is enjoying her summer, but she is by no means taking time off.

She still trains with her Buchanan teammates daily, staying in competitive shape while showing the next generation of runners the ropes.

Lowe continues to work with her longtime training partner, Corie Smith, who is preparing to enter her senior year. Now that Lowe has graduated, it is Smith’s time to step up as leader of the team, a role she has already begun to fill.

“I think even during her years, especially her last year, obviously she was still a leader but it was kind of like she was the president and I was the vice president,” Smith said. “It’s kind of like I was groomed into it, now that I am a senior, it’s coming a lot more.”

Smith has already earned her leadership role on the team with impressive runs during her first three years at Buchanan. But she credits Lowe with helping her develop as a runner by plotting her runs and tracking her times.

“My freshman year, I was super laxed. I didn’t look at my times. I just went out and ran. For her, it was definitely like mathematics,” Smith said. “She taught me how to be a better runner in the fact that you have to be organized.”

When Lowe talks about her training and racing, her time management skills are evident. She breaks down each run into smaller segments, analyzing each leg of a run for target times and optimal pacing. The run as a whole becomes an equation that Lowe uses to maximize her efficiency and hit target benchmark times.

But Lowe’s time management skills are not restricted to her racing.

Lowe has spent much of her summer working her first job, spending four hours a day, five days a week in a doctor’s office filing papers and sorting records, a job she admits is not the most exciting but said is good experience working in an office setting.

Her head coach at Buchanan, Weaver, said that Lowe has done “a great job balancing” her academic work with her training and has shown maturity in her prioritization of her goals.

“It’s hard. It’s really hard when you’re young,” Weaver said. “She probably sacrificed hanging out with some of her friends who aren’t athletes during the weekends. She lived the life of a runner.”

But weekends aren’t the only sacrifices Lowe has made for her sport. The State Championship was not the last race of the year for Lowe, so even as she received her diploma at graduation, competing was still on her mind.

“I didn’t go to Grad Night, I didn’t go to Sober Grad. I went home and went to bed after graduation,” Lowe recalled. “Those once in a lifetime things, it would be cool to go, but I’d rather go run this national race that has been my goal to get invited to since my freshman year.”

Lowe’s training during the school year averages about 50 miles a week, Weaver said. But it isn’t just the accumulated distance that has made Lowe a fierce competitor — it’s her effort.

“All the kids have the same workouts, but her intensity was just at a higher level,” Weaver said.

Her training partner Smith also noted Lowe’s drive at practice, saying that Lowe would go above and beyond the coach’s planned training routines.

“She’s very diligent. She does everything the coaches say and more,” Smith said of her teammate. “She was always there to keep me in check.”

Lowe has aspirations of being an All-American athlete and getting to an NCAA championship, a feat she can accomplish with her level of determination and commitment.

As for now, Lowe is ready to begin the next chapter of her journey with a new team in Oregon, but will leave with the knowledge that she will always have the friendship and support of her Buchanan teammates.

“I wouldn’t want these last three years with anyone else. The friendship we made, I don’t think she’ll ever not be a part of my life,” Smith said. “All the girls on the Oregon State team will love her, because we all do.”

Lowe has been running competitively since fourth grade. Now she is preparing to run for a university, but she has no plans of stopping there.

“I feel like running will probably always be a part of my life, whether I continue on professionally after college or if I’m just running for fun,” Lowe said. “It’s just something I love to do.”

Seth Casey
Seth Casey is an aspiring journalist, an avid sports fan and a Fresno/Clovis native. He currently attends Fresno State, where he is pursuing a degree in Media, Communication and Journalism with an emphasis in print journalism. He is excited for the opportunity to work at the Clovis Roundup and looks forward to serving the Clovis community and its residents by showcasing all the city has to offer.