MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – When you hear about what Phoebe Aguiar has accomplished on the track, it’s almost startling to hear that it’s not her biggest priority here in college.

A lot of athletes say academics are important, but few mean it as much as her.

“I could’ve walked on D1, but I kind of wanted to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, which I think ended up being for the best. I don’t think I would’ve made it D1, it would’ve probably been too much with the academic and the athletic stress,” Aguiar said.

Because it’s serious stuff she’s studying. Her major: environmental studies, with which she’s planning on a career working in government policy related to climate change.

“I’m really interested in some of the environmental issues that also bleed into the social issues,” Aguiar said.

(credit: CBS)

The kind of work you can’t do if you’re completely focused on sports.

“You know, being a student but also being an athlete, and mostly being a student,” Aguiar said.

Which is perhaps what makes her success as an athlete even more remarkable.

Two weeks ago, Aguiar ran the fastest 800 meters in MIAC history, which was the fastest in all of Division 3 this season. Then last Saturday, she ran the fastest 600 meters in MIAC history by more than two seconds. This the same athlete who last year at outdoor nationals ran the 10th fastest 800-meter time in Division 3 history.

Next week, she’ll run the 800 again at indoor nationals, which this time comes with a little more pressure.

“More of an expectation to place or to place well, or to win, but I think it’s good. I think I’m ready for it. I think also knowing that I’m going to be running next year D 1 and then potentially after that, it kind of helps to be like, ‘OK, this is worth it,'” Aguiar said.

Yes, next year she’ll be moving on from Macalester to pursue a master’s in public policy and administration at Syracuse. With a year of eligibility left, she’ll compete in track there, too.

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