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Friday, September 30, 2016

It's a Family Thing

Ali Paul, Lily Paul and Marina Paul have all run cross country
and been members of the track & field teams at Minnesota State
It runs in the family.

Lily Paul enters her sophomore year as a member of the Minnesota State women’s cross country and track and field teams. Not coincidentally, both of her older sisters, Ali and Marina, were also runners for the Mavericks

Cedar Grove is a small town of just over 2,000 people located in southeastern Wisconsin and this is where it all began for the trio of young tracksters. Lester Paul, Lily’s father, built a 5k running track on the family’s home property. “I never missed a day running with my dad in high school,” said Lily. “I ran with him every step of the way. He stressed more than just being a good runner. He made sure we worked as hard as we could."

Les Paul was never much a runner growing up. A bodybuilder and wrestler, he basically was the opposite of a runner. But after seeing the eldest of the Paul progeny, Ali, gain success as a runner, his coaching career started to take flight. “He has four daughters and three of us have ran here at Minnesota State. He put his passion and time into running, so we could be the best runners we could be.”

(Besides Ali, Marina and Lily, the fourth Paul sister, Chloe, ran in high school and is in the mixed choir and an a capella group at UW-Eau Claire)).

Ali Paul was an All-American runner at Minnesota State who also qualified for Junior Nationals. Marina ran for all four of her collegiate years in Mankato and her senior season was her best season where she earned all-conference, all-region, and the team’s top runner accolades.

Now, Lily is leading the women’s cross country team as its top runner.

“I didn’t come in expecting to be a top performer. My dad kind of told me to shoot for the middle of the pack to start and as freshman season began I was a top two runner. Then, by the start of the second half of the season, I took the jump as our top runner.”

Lily finished 60th at the 2015 NCAA DII Central Regional championship and was Minnesota State's top finisher and earned all-conference second team honors with an 18th-place finish (23:51.4) at the 2015 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championship meet.

This unexpected success built a confidence in Lily that she carries with her into her sophomore year.

Minnesota State women’s cross country and track and field coach Jen Blue had Lilly’s two older sisters as student-athletes, instilling a comfort in Lily’s decision to compete for the Mavericks.

“I have known Coach Blue since I was in sixth grade. She knows our family very well and talks to my parents like they are longtime family friends. We work well together.”

Now in her 15th season as the head cross country and track and field coach with the Mavericks, coach Blue had Ali Paul through her All-American season at Minnesota State, which helped Marina (an All-NSIC runner who placed 20th for the Mavericks at the 2014 conference championships) and Lily get to know her and the program better while watching their older sister succeed.

They are all their own unique person. They have similar mannerisms. Marina and Lily run like each other. Ali was more introverted. Lily is the most outgoing. They are all very driven and lot of this comes from their dad pushing them growing up. He is intense” said Blue.

This work ethic has led to a lot of success in the Maverick uniform. Lily looks to continue this success by following the Paul tradition here at Minnesota State.

       contributed by Trevor Patterson, Minnesota State Athletic Communications intern

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