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Notre Dame star runner Lauren Eftink verbally commits to SEMO

Notre Dame senior cross country and track and field runner Lauren Eftink officially announced her verbal commitment to Southeast Missouri State via Instagram on Tuesday. Submitted photo

On Tuesday afternoon, Notre Dame star runner senior Lauren Eftink officially announced her verbal commitment to Southeast Missouri State, where she will continue her cross country and track and field career.

“I am very excited and grateful to announce my commitment to SEMO,” Eftink said. “SEMO offers everything I was looking for and is the place where I feel truly at home. There is something unique about competing for your hometown because I wil be staying around a community I love and has shaped me into who I am.

“Along with feeling at home, I am excited about the opportunities available at SEMO. The university itself is appealing to my goals and aspirations in life as well as it is incredibly welcoming. Overall the program as a whole is extremely strong, and I am blessed to get a chance to compete and wear the SEMO jersey.”

Eftink’s commitment to SEMO comes after a cross country season where she nearly took home the individual Class 3 State Championship this past fall.

In her final high school cross country race, Lauren placed second overall with a time of 18 minutes, 29.7 seconds, which also happened to break the Bulldogs school record in the 5K.

This runner-up finish made Eftink, who is a four-time state qualifier, finish her high school cross country career as a three-time all-state medalist. Lauren ran in Class 4 prior to her senior year as she took 11th place as a junior and 22nd overall her sophomore year to earn all-state.

Eftink is also a standout for Notre Dame’s track team, where she holds the school records in the 1600 and 3200-meter runs with times of 5:09.11 and 11:20.65, respectively. She is a three-time Class 4 All-State medalist (twice in the 1600; once in the 3200) and will compete in her final season of track at Notre Dame this spring.

Unsurprisingly, Lauren has also dominated against competition in the Southeast Missouri region. Eftink is a two-time SEMO Conference Champion in cross country and was named the SEMO Conference Most Valuable Track Performer last season as a junior.

“I have developed my purpose for running at Notre Dame, which is to run All For His Glory, and I can’t wait to carry that over to college,” Eftink said. “I realize that I am not only running for myself but for God, those who support me and the athletes that come after me. It has been an honor to compete for a program like Notre Dame and to leave a mark on the program to inspire and push future athletes.”

This is impressive considering the fact she used to compete against what will now be her future teammate in current Redhawks sophomore Layla Fliege, who was formerly a Jackson Indian. Eftink will also join a former high school teammate at SEMO in Notre Dame 2021 graduate and current Red-hawks junior Haley Smith.

“It will be fun to rejoin Haley, who helped me learn the ropes my freshman year,” Eftink said. “It will also be exciting to work with Layla Fliege, Alayna Sparr and Kayla Vogelsang, who were former competitors that I knew and formed friendships with. It will be fun to run with and learn from those ladies along with the other talented women in the program. I am incredibly excited to be surrounded by such a fun, motivated and successful team!”

Lauren is also going to be continuing the Eftink dynasty at SEMO as she will follow in the footsteps of her older brother Clayton, who is currently in his senior year with the Redhawks.

With her commitment to SEMO, Eftink is continuing the trend of Southeast Missouri cross country and track and field athletes taking their talents to the next level. Just last year, Notre Dame track had three Division-I signings in Cole Bruenderman (Lindenwood), Jenna Givens (Saint Louis) and Greg Dennis (SEMO).

“This area and Notre Dame have produced many successful athletes at the high school level that have gone on to do amazing things collegiately and beyond,” Eftink said. “I am very honored to get the chance to continue the legacy that athletes before me began.

“It means a lot to me because I myself looked up to other athletes that inspired me. I hope that others can see my journey and realize that dreams can come true. My achievements at Notre Dame have been a true blessing, and it has been an amazing four years.”

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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