Saluki finds her fit in cross country

By Gabriella Scibetta

One Saluki athlete came to SIU for volleyball, but will finish her career as a cross-country runner.

Senior Krista Menghini participated in cross-country, track and volleyball in high school, but decided to come to the university on a volleyball scholarship.

“Once I got here, it became really clear to me that I was supposed to be a runner, not a volleyball player,” she said.


Menghini said even though she loved being around the volleyball players, she felt she belonged with the runners.

Senior distance runner Tori Parry said Menghini has transformed in her sport.

“It has been rewarding to see Krista grow exponentially with running this past year,” she said.

Instead of returning to volleyball after her first season, she chose to run track and cross-country with full support from her inspiration, her mom.

“I was going into college [knowing] I have four years of volleyball left in me, because there isn’t much to do with volleyball after college,” Menghini said. “I just knew I would be even happier if I switched over.”

Menghini said to quit volleyball was the best and the hardest decision she ever had to make.

Although she was very thankful for being recruited, she knew she would be happier as a runner.


She said last year’s cross country team’s Missouri Valley Conference Championship win was one of the proudest moments of her career.

Menghini said she surprised herself when she beat the school record and got second place at conference while in the steeplechase.

Parry said conference was where Menghini stepped up and had a breakthrough for the team.

“When Krista transitioned from volleyball to track she had a deep passion for running, but lacked the confidence,” former cross country coach Matt Sparks said.

Sparks said he saw Menghini mature and gain the confidence that allowed her to become one of the best runners in the MVC.

Menghini said all she has achieved as a runner was thanks to Sparks.

With new coach David Beauchem, the whole team is putting its trust in him to make improvements, and hopefully bring another championship, Parry said.

“Since [the conference championship] she has been a significant leader on the team,” Parry said.

She said at the beginning of her training with the cross-country team, she was able to run at most 30 miles a week. Now she runs approximately 70 miles a week.

“I had to build up to that and take steady steps towards that mileage,” Menghini said.

Menghini said her first semester here was not the best, but it was all worth it in the end.

“Switching over didn’t only bring me to the sport I love, but also my best friends,” Menghini said.

In her senior year, Menghini said she and her confidence are exactly where she wants them to be.

Menghini is interested in being a personal trainer after college and wants to compete in triathalons and marathons in her free time.

“I’m happy that I came here to play volleyball first because if I was going to run in college initially I probably would have gone somewhere else, and I wouldn’t have met my best friends, boy friend, and the amazing coach I had,” Menghini said.

Gabriella Scibetta can be reached at [email protected],on Twitter @Gscibetta_DE or at 536-3311 ext. 256