by Brett Marhanka, Athletics Communications Director
Renee Bettinger ’12 has successfully balanced hard work in the classroom with hard work on the Thunder women’s track team. She is a two-time All-American for Wheaton in the women’s 100-meter dash, and a chemistry major who graduated summa cum laude with a 3.88 cumulative grade point average.
“If you know Renee,” says Head Coach Scott Bradley ’86, “you know that she is really consistent in all areas of her life. It has shown up in the classroom and in track. She always worked hard and never missed training.”
As a junior in high school, Renee, a track athlete, was experiencing pain that made running especially difficult. Diagnosed at that time as having juvenile arthritis, it took months to discover that the pains were not caused by arthritis but were actually a rare side effect to a common medication.
Experiencing multiple incorrect and hurtful medications used to combat arthritis has led her to consider pharmacy as a career. “My desire to help prevent this from happening to others combined well with my interest in the sciences and mathematics,” Renee says. “I hope to become a pharmacist who is competent in helping people through the use of medicine.”
During her four years on Wheaton’s track team, Renee set the school record several times in the 100. She also holds a school indoor record in the 55-meter dash. Coach Bradley says, “Her recruitment of her fast-twitch muscle fiber is very good and she has great coordination. Coordination in running isn’t the same as it is in sports like baseball or football, but she can turn over really, really fast. Without question, Renee is definitely the best female sprinter I have ever coached. She has been incredibly consistent in her times.”
For Renee, a key memory of her running career was at a Wisconsin-La Crosse event near the end of her senior year. “The only people to travel to this meet were Coach Bradley, one other athlete, and me. This alone made for a memorable trip as we talked and bonded the whole drive up to Wisconsin. Then during the prelims of the 100-meter dash, I ran a personal best time of 12.05 seconds. This was followed by another personal best of 11.99 seconds during the finals. My lifelong track goal had been to break 12 seconds in the 100-meter dash, and being able to finally do so at the end of my senior year, even if only by 0.01 seconds, was so rewarding.”
On May 26, 2012, Renee competed in the finals of the women’s 100-meter dash at the Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships for the second consecutive year. She finished eighth in the nation in the race, earning Division III All-American recognition from the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association for the second straight year.
She says of her race, the last competition of her collegiate career, “I had very mixed emotions after the finals on that Saturday. I was ecstatic to have placed in the top eight and made All-American again, but I was also very sad to know that it was the last race of my college career. I had a wonderful four years running and competing for Wheaton, and while there was some relief that came with knowing that I had run my last race very well, I will also greatly miss track, running, and my teammates now that it’s over.”
Coach Bradley sums up Renee: “She loves competing, which is a large reason for her success.” However, he adds, “What I admire about Renee is her humility. There is not a cocky bone in her body, in terms of the way she carries herself as a person and as an athlete. When you are humble like Renee is, you are willing to be taught, to learn, and to be coached.”