My GRCC Story: Cross country racer Audrey Meyering makes history as GRCC’s first – and likely only – three-time All-American

Earning National Junior College Athletic Association All-American honors three times in the same sport was not something Audrey Meyering expected when she enrolled at GRCC.

In fact, no other student-athlete in school history has achieved that feat. And it’s not likely anyone else will, either.

The global pandemic that ultimately gave all community college athletes a third year of eligibility had something to do with that. But so did Meyering’s considerable talents on the cross country course.

Recruited by GRCC coach Sharon Becker, Meyering knew immediately during her official campus visit that the college was a perfect fit.

“After graduating from high school, I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do in college,” she said. “I thought about culinary arts, but I hadn’t enrolled in the program until after my first semester at GRCC. To save myself some money, and to get a feel for what I liked, along with the opportunity to run cross country, GRCC was the right fit for me.”

A four-time letter winner in cross country in high school, Meyering ran a personal-best 20:23 in the fall of 2019, her last season of high school cross country. The following spring saw the disruption of her track and field season and the final months of her high school academic career because of COVID.

Those disruptions followed her to GRCC. But Meyering said she tried to stay optimistic about the opportunities before her.

“I do feel like I’ve made the best of all my years at GRCC,” she said at the conclusion of the 2022 cross country season. “Being online for me was difficult at the start of COVID, but it grew on me after a while. It became the new normal. It’s crazy to see so many students back on campus this year.”

The pandemic also gave her a rare third year of competition and allowed her the shot at three All-American honors. Beyond that though, she said, being on the team for that long allowed for major growth in relationships with teammates and coaches.

“It has been very rewarding to make so many new lifetime friends,” she said. “I loved every second of being on the team.”

Meyering said the jump from high school cross country to collegiate cross country was significant, but she credited Becker for being there for her every step of the way.

“Coach has pushed me to be my best from day one,” she said. “I couldn’t be more grateful to have someone to help me become the best student-athlete and teammate possible. In many ways, she was a big reason that I chose to come back for the third time.” 

Meyering is on track to graduate this spring with her culinary degree and is excited to see what’s next.

She also sees similarities between her culinary journey and her athletic pursuits.

“Competitive drive is one of the things that connects the two the most,” she said. “In the (culinary) industry, it is easy to pick out those who have a passion for culinary arts and those who don’t, and I think that makes a big difference in terms of how far you can make it in either running or the industry.”  

And, just like Becker was a formative influence for her as her coach, she pointed to culinary professors who filled the same role for her in her academic career.

“My two favorite culinary professors are Chef (Bob) Shultz and Chef (Sarah) Waller,” she said. “They both know how to have a lot of fun in the kitchen while also being productive. They also always push us as students to be very creative, and I like the freedom to be able to create something new.” 

GRCC’s world-renowned culinary program has a strong international flavor, and Meyering has gotten a taste for a world beyond West Michigan, thanks to her courses and professors.

“After graduation I would really love the opportunity to travel,” she said. “It would be great to visit some new countries, experience new cultures and try new foods.”

She also hopes to continue to run competitively after graduation.

“Moving up from half marathons to full marathons would be really neat to cross off my list,” she said with a smile.

She laughs when she thinks now of running marathons and recalls her early junior high days of cross country competition.

“I didn’t think that running would be the sport that I’d fall in love with,” she said. “But I think I like it so much because I’m always running with my best friends and am constantly meeting new people along the way. Running is also how I clear my mind and relax.”

Among the new people she has met along the way is GRCC teammate Kaylee Scott, who set a new Raider record in 2022 with a blazing 19:12.7.

“Kaylee is the person who has impacted me the most,” Meyering said. “She’s been my running buddy the whole way through. In our sport, having someone to cheer you on and push you to your limits – and to share your struggles with – is the best. Sharing an All-American title with her, crossing the finish line just seconds behind her, those are some of my favorite memories.”

This story was reported by Phil de Haan. 

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