And it was close, very close.
“It was a very hard decision to make,” said Houston County High School student-athlete Megan Breitbach who signed a Letter of Intent with Georgia Tech last week. “I was almost set to go to Iowa State, which is where we’re from (the Breitbach family, which includes three older sisters), where I grew up … our relatives all still live there almost.”
But, she explained, the night before she was going to call Iowa State, Georgia Tech called. “They were like, ‘We have an offer for you,’” she said. She also had offers from Mercer, Nichols State, the Air Force Academy (which with her dad being an Air Force colonel also received plenty of consideration), Appalachian State and others. “’So just wait a couple more days,’” she said of Georgia Tech’s request. “So I waited.”
And accepted it when it came in, she said, it ultimately winning out mainly because “it’s closer to home, my parents will be able to come and watch me race and I’ll be able to come back to Houston County and watch everybody from my team race.”
“It was actually less money-wise for academics,” she added. “But I’ll be able to get the Hope Scholarship.” Plus, she also added, “They see a lot of potential in me. They said there’s obviously much more room for scholarship money in my future.”
Breitbach’s scholarship might be mainly in the area of cross-country but she said they also want her to compete in track and field events – 5,000 meters or 10,000 meters, she said. She is also getting set to do the same thing – compete in track and field; the 3200 as well as the 1600 “and then the 800 sometimes,” she said – for Houston County High.
Her long-term plans at Georgia Tech, she said, is to major in biology and get a certificate in kinesiology while taking health classes at Georgia State University.
“So it’s sort of like a health and wellness program,” she said. “I want to stay in like the athletic career. Even after I’m done running around, I want to be around it (some area of athletics).”
Moving to Houston County six years ago, running only came onto the scene as late as middle school. Back then she said she was mostly into softball, basketball and soccer. She did take part in track and field but that was mainly to get the “four-sport” award, and only as a competitor in shot-put and discus.
Then something happened. In her freshman year in high school somebody asked her if she wanted to run a 10-mile race in Washington D.C. called the Marine Corp Race.
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, a 10-mile race. I don’t know if I can do it. So I started running and I just decided to go out for cross-country and I beat our best girl on the first day. So I just sort of got hooked on it … A little obsessed. Four years ago if you’d asked me to run a mile I would have come up with every excuse possible to get out of it … I don’t know. Once you start running, the next day you want to run farther. Then you start reading running books and running magazines.
“It’s really a lifestyle. I would have never thought it would be like this. I couldn’t name even two runners great in America four years ago and now I can name 20.”
Needless to say, softball, basketball and soccer – and she said her coaches won’t even let her get near a shot-put or discus these days – soon took a backseat.
In their place were races like the Coast to Coast relay – from Mount Hood to the coast of Oregon, she said - the Junior Olympics, Footlocker South Regional and one high school cross-country meet after another. At those she has become a common fixture at the front, not only winning but also pretty much dominating the field.
This past year at the AAAAA state meet she was eighth out of 211 girls, and had the chance to finish higher – she said she stayed around third or fourth until the close of the race – if not for the fact she was competing with a respiratory infection that caught up to her in the end.
At college the main thing she said she wants to improve on is her “speed”.
Hoping to compete in the Olympics one day – but not until in her 30s, she said - she said she also needs to learn how to compete with the best.
“You can’t compete in a marathon if you can’t compete with them in 10,000 meters. And I’ll also learn what schedule fits me best in running.
“It’s kind of like a science. Sometimes you run too much and you get hurt and sometimes you don’t run enough and you’re not good enough. It’s something you learn throughout the years.”