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February 28, 2014

DePlacido Column: Peabody's MacLean shines at UMass Amherst

It didn’t take long for Peabody’s Heather MacLean to make a name for herself at UMass Amherst. The freshman, who was named A-10 Rookie of the Week for the second time earlier this month, set a new school record in the indoor 800 meter event at the Hemery Valentine Invitational with her personal best time of 2:10.48. She finished 13th overall in a tough field of 160 and was third in the Atlantic-10.

MacLean made a smooth adjustment from high school to college. At the league championship in Rhode Island last weekend she finished fourth overall, and has twice been named UMass Athlete of the Week this season.

“The 800 is my best event,” said MacLean. “I always felt comfortable running it in high school, and even though I came to UMass for cross country I will run all three seasons. The school record was 2:12, and it was nice to break it. At the A-10 championship I was the only freshman in my (final) race which felt a little strange.”

MacLean, who won the Division 1 meet champ and was second at All-State in a personal best time of 2:11 in high school, also broke the Peabody High record in that event. Last spring she won the Division 1 600 with a new school record. She was also a high jumper and member of the 4x800 relay team. The Tanners’ MVP as both a junior and senior, she placed 14th at nationals.

Things didn’t get off to a great start this year when an injury cut short her cross country season, but she even surprised herself by bouncing back so quickly.

“I had Achilles tendonitis so I didn’t get to finish my season,” said the psychology major. “I had to cross train a month and get a lot of treatment. I couldn’t do anything hard for a while, but I thought it was going to take me longer to get back to top shape. I had hoped to best my 2:11 high school time this season. Now that I’ve done that I want to finish up strong. We’ve got the New England’s next which is a big one (today and tomorrow).”

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