Through the last finish line with lifelong friends

As 2023 comes to an end, fall sports are wrapping up with it. For senior and Aviation Administration major, Payton Goudreau, this season was his last time running competitively at the collegiate level. He reflected on his career and commented on how different the team is compared to his freshman year. Back then, the biggest obstacle was culture.

“Team wise we just could not pull things together. There were a lot of teammates dragging down the motivation,” says Goudreau. Although the team had the ability, they did not have the bond needed to run for each other and not just as individuals. 

The next year, COVID hit and many teams were thrown off completely by the cancellations and restrictions. However, this was when the tables turned for the cross country team. Graduate student Dustin Macuiba from Notre Dame, joined the Flyers and, as Goudreau put it, transformed the culture. “He brought an attitude to practice everyday and there was no status with him. It didn’t matter who you were, he would talk to anyone.” He described how the athletes slowly became more cohesive and comfortable with one another. Goudreau credits this switch to Macuiba, and the influence and impact he had on his teammates. 

For the first time in Goudreau’s career at Lewis, he noticed that “everyone was so excited to race, everything the year before was forgotten, everything was fresh and new.” Everyone seemed to put aside their differences and really start loving one another. Together, the men were able to win the program’s first conference victory in 14 years. The following year, they accomplished the same feat. 

This season the team has continued its pattern of growth, building an extremely strong culture that Goudreau is very proud of. He spoke of his class when he said, “we have learned from past classes…they set the standard of what it means to be a very high level DII athlete.” With what his class has learned, they do their best to keep that furnace of chemistry alive and burning.

One aspect of the 2023 season that helped kindle that fire is the freshmen class. Goudreau described how “the guys came in and there was no need for intervention or a reminder of how much effort should be given.” He was impressed that each of them were bright eyed and bushy tailed, even on tough workout days. “They are super motivated, they don’t need to be motivated.” More so than any other year, Goudreau felt that the team was not filled with separate groups, but was one. “Even when there is a difference in level of skill the culture made it seem like there was no difference.”

After winning the conference championship once again this season, the team’s biggest goal moving forward is to secure the triple crown for the first time. This would include winning the indoor track and outdoor track title along with the conference title. “Every single person plays a very important role in motivation, loving and empathizing with each other. What motivates us enough is knowing that it’s a team effort.” Carrying this mindset with them, they hope to take the crown home. 

Looking back on the four years as a Flyer, Goudreau was proud to say, “Multiple times we proved everyone wrong and we were much more than what we were ranked as. I credit that to everything we’ve learned.” A team that has the work ethic, skill and culture of the Lewis Flyers, is a successful one. 

Photo Credits: Joshua Beam

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