Mary Proulx enters the Keene State Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame as the College’s most honored athlete. Not only did Proulx’s accomplishments far exceed those of previous Owl runners, but put her in a select class nationally in Division III.
“Mary is the finest athlete that’s been at Keene State regardless of sport or gender,” said KSC Coach Peter Thomas. “In 30 years of Division III track and field and she is among the all-time leaders in the 1,500 and 5,000-meter events and the fastest women ever in the 10,000. There’s not an athlete who has been here who can stand up to that.”
Proulx’s credentials during four-year (1999-2003) cross country and track career at Keene State speak for themselves. The first female track All-American and national champion at KSC, Proulx was a five-time national champion and 15-time All-American. A three-time cross country All-American, she placed fourth in the 2002 championship. Proulx, from Ashland, N.H., won both 3,000 and 5,000 meter races at the outdoor NCAA championships in 2001, the 5,000 and 10,000 the following spring in 2002, and the outdoor 10K as a senior. She is the only two-time KSC female athlete of the year, winning the honor in 2002 and 2003.
Phrases like All-American and national champion were foreign to Proulx when she arrived at Keene State. “Competing at Keene State was nothing like I had ever expected,” she said. “I still remember running a mile workout my freshman year and I PR’d. I didn’t think I would get faster than that.”
But Mary Poulx was born to run. Although there were some early bumps on the road, she combined her natural skills, with great coaching and mental toughness to become a national champion. “Going into every race, I would think about all the work I had put into my running, so I knew what was expected,” Proulx said. “I never put pressure on myself, but I knew I was in the best shape and had a chance to win.”
Among her many national championships, Proulx said her first two titles were special. “I had no idea that going into the 3K and 5K at Milliken University that I would bring home two championships,” she said. “It was totally surreal. I still remember running across the main road to the pay phone and calling my dad, not once but twice. It was a great weekend.”
Two of Proulx most impressive performances took place on the national stage at the prestigious Penn Relays. After winning the 5,000-meter race as a junior, she raced into the record book the following year, capturing the 10,000-meter event, posting a 33:21.80, the fastest time ever by a Division III runner. “This is her favorite venue and she went out and ran the race of her life.” said Thomas at the time.
Proulx gives Thomas a lot of credit for helping her race to her potential. “I definitely owe it all to Pete, because he’s an amazing coach, “said Proulx in a Keene State Today story following her sophomore season. “I don’t know if I was anywhere else if I would have done as well.”
Currently competing for the BAA, Proulx helped her USATF team win the 2005 national championship. Although Mary said it is hard training on her own, she still enjoys the fun and competitive part of running. Mary and her husband and fellow inductee Mark Miller recently moved back to Keene. “After leaving we realized that the one place that made us truly happy and we called home was Keene.”