EDWARDSVILLE – Two of Edwardsville's top girls distance runners will be getting the opportunity to compete at the collegiate level.

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Melissa Spencer signed a letter of intent to attend the University of Indianapolis, while Katelyn Singh signed with the University of Evansville during a ceremony held Wednesday afternoon at the EHS campus. Both runners played key roles on the Tiger cross-country team and have also accomplished much as members of the track team during their time as Tigers.

Indianapolis is a NCAA Division II school and members of the Great Lakes Valley Conference, which once included SIU-Edwardsville before the program went to the Division I level and joined the Ohio Valley Conference; current GLVC members include Illinois-Springfield, Drury University in Springfield, Mo., Maryville University in St. Louis, McKendree University in Lebanon and Missouri-St. Louis. The University of Evansville is an NCAA Division I school and members of the Missouri Valley Conference.

“I'm really excited about the campus,” Spencer said when asked why she chose UIndy. “It's really beautiful there and it's kind of close, so I hopefully can go back and forth between downtown Indianapolis and Indy.”

Spencer first came to the sport, as she put it, “just something to do. In (Lincoln) middle school, I just wanted something to do and I didn't have anything, so I decided to run; it ended up becoming one of my favorite things to do.

“I just want to keep improving and help out my team as much as I can because I know what I put in towards the team effort is going to help them in the future.”

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“I'm very excited,” Singh said about signing with the Purple Aces. “There were many factors (on why she signed with UE), but it mainly came down to how welcome I felt on the team and the academic programs at the university.”

Singh got into running thanks to her father Dave's side of the family. “On my dad's side of the family, we have a few runners there,” Singh said. “They've always been running and I honestly wasn't the biggest fan of running for awhile; I was a cheerleader in sixth grade, but a couple of my friends convinced me to join the cross-country team and I've been running ever since.

“It's been amazing (being a part of the teams at Edwardsville); I wouldn't have been able to have the same wonderful experience at Edwardsville High School without it. All my teammates push you and all the coaches truly care about you and want to see the best in you.”

“She (Singh) has been amazing this year,” said Tiger girls track coach Camilla Eberlin. “She has flourished; we give weekly awards; recently, she got what we consider our MVP of the week, our top Tiger because she had a PR (personal record) in the 800, a PR in the two-mile, PR in the mile. She's great; both she and Melissa are great leaders.”

“It's fantastic for these kids to earn opportunities to run collegiate,' said EHS distance coach Dustin Davis. “It's a fantastic opportunity for any kid, to see them taking advantage of it is awesome. They're both going to be running at programs that are pretty good programs.

“Melissa has been an incredible leader, been someone who is always focused; she never takes shortcuts and she's really fast also – it's kind of the whole package, all in one. She's been someone who has inspired a lot of the younger people and she has consistently improved every year – it's just not a few seconds here or there, she's improved consistently by big margins.

“Katelyn's a big catch (for Evansville); she's going to bring a lot to the program. I know that program has gone through a few changes over the last 10 years, so she's going to be a big pickup for them. Katelyn is kind of incredible because, over her first three years, she battled anemia and different injuries she had, but for her such a consistent senior year has been awesome; I think she really has a lot of untapped potential – not only that, she's is probably the one person on the team who everybody can get along with, that everybody can trust and I think that speaks volumes to her personality.”

Spencer plans on majoring in exercise science at the school, with plans on becoming an athletic trainer; Singh is planning on majoring in bio-chemistry with a pre-dental focus, with hopes of working at a general dental practice but is interested in oral surgery.

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