Catching Up with Shakopee Legend Maria Hauger


One of Minnesota's most impressive legacies belongs to Shakopee graduate Maria Hauger who won 4 straight cross country state titles, 4 track and field state titles, and is the state record holder in the 4K. Hauger is one of the legendary runners in Minnesota state history. 

We at MileSplit Minnesota recently caught up with Maria to talk about her high school career, her college injury, and to gather running advice for our current generation of runners in Minnesota. 


What are you up to nowadays as a post-college graduate? Do you still run?

I am enjoying staying very busy working at Discover Strength in Northeast Minneapolis as a Senior Exercise Physiologist. I have been working there since I graduated from UVA back in 2017. Discover Strength is a personalized strength training studio using an evidenced-based approach. I design workouts and train clients from beginner to elite athletes both in studio and virtually from all over the world. I've enjoyed strength training some marathon runners to facilitate their running success. Recently, I had the opportunity to strength train some high school cross country male and female teams which I enjoyed, and lead a female Restore and Renew Retreat.

I do still run as tolerated, and have run some fun 5ks, half marathons, and marathons since graduating. I would run more, but my previous injuries have limited me. Mainly, I cross-train with biking and strength training. I enjoy being out in nature as much as possible.

You were the ACC XC Freshman of the year in 2013. How did it feel to have immediate success as a collegiate runner?

It was so awesome winning ACC XC Freshman of the year in 2013! I knew I was super fit going into collegiate running, so it was really inspiring seeing that I could hang with the top collegiate runners as well. The ACC had so many talented runners that year, so I felt honored and thankful that all my hard work every day paid off. 

Related: 2012 Track Chats -- Maria Hauger

Your career as a collegiate runner ended due to injury, what was that like for you? and what advice can you offer for other runners that have big injuries?

Not going to lie, injuries are devastating and not fun, but I used it as motivation to learn and come back stronger. I stayed involved with the team. I was never injured before that and never had to deal with any time off from running before, so it was hard for me to adjust to, but it was a great way to put my life in perspective and focus on other areas in my life to get better at. My coach and I truly agonized over this decision, but chronic sacral injuries and pain ended my training and collegiate running. My advice to athletes is remembering that your value comes from who you are, not what you do is key. 

How did your injury change the trajectory of your life? Did you feel as if you had a big void if you weren't competing?

If I didn't get injured, who knows how far I would have gone in my running career. I would run 70+ miles every week if my body let me just because I love it and I love pushing myself out of my comfort zone and competing against myself and others! I am a very self-motivated person, so when I couldn't run, I put that energy into my career and work (training clients). I personally choose to work 6-7 days a week. Since then, I have won Exercise Physiologist of the Year for Discover Strength multiple years in a row for the amount of clients I train and the work I do. 

My inability to run definitely left voids in my life from exercise and goal-setting standpoints, so I filled that with strength training, biking, and other activities that I could do. One of the main reasons I love strength training is because everyone can do it no matter how injured you are, there is usually still one limb in your body you can train. I believe I challenged my inability to compete myself by using that to motivate and train others to fulfill their fitness needs. This is why I love cheering and watching sports because I know and appreciate the commitment it takes to excel in them. I love witnessing other athletes excel. 

You were inducted into the Shakopee Alumni Association's Hall of Fame in 2019. How does it feel to be included among the greats of your high school?

It was such an honor to be inducted into the Shakopee Alumni Association's Hall of Fame. I loved running for Shakopee and representing my town. I am beyond thankful for all the support I received from my teachers, family, and friends. I couldn't have accomplished what I did without them. 

State XC Meet Results: 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012

Looking back on your high school career, what are you most proud of?

I am most proud of my 8 state championships (4 in XC and 4 in track). When I was in 8th grade, I took 9th at the state cross country meet (it was my first season in the sport). I told myself after that race and wrote it on my wall that I was going to win that race for the next 4 years. I not only accomplished that, but I ran to 3rd in the Nation at Footlocker Cross Country Nationals in CA my senior year. I do wish Minnesota girls ran a 5k instead of a 4k race while I was in high school as I like the longer races.

You are still the only Minnesota girl to win 4 Class AA XC titles, which of those titles was the most memorable for you?

Each one was so different, so it's hard to choose, but I would have to say my last (4th title) my senior season. I won by a huge margin and set the 4k state record at the time. I had reached the goal I set back in 8th grade that "I would win that race for the next 4 years." Todd Morgan (my coach at UVA) surprised me and came to MN to watch my race without me knowing. It was such a fun surprise seeing him at the finish line! 


2010 MSHSL State Meet Highlights - Girls Class AA


Out of all the races you won in high school, is there any one that stands out to you?

If I didn't pick my 4th state XC title, it would have to be my junior year 1600m state champion win! I won the triple crown of distance races that year as I like to say (XC, 3200m, and 1600m). I have always been a runner that gets stronger the longer the distance, so the 1600m was never my strongest race. I was in 3rd heading into the final lap and passed the 2nd place runner on the backstretch and the leader in the last 100m to win the title! 

Who were some of the high school and college teammates and coaches that were most memorable to you?

Coach Neu (my high school cross country coach) was an amazing coach and even better person. He cared so much for his athletes and did anything to help them win. My coach at UVA (Todd Morgan) was the same as well. Even when I was dealing with injuries, he did everything he could to make you feel a part of the team. I loved my high school and cross country teammates. Most other sports may view running as an individual sport, and that couldn't be further from the truth. 

As an experienced high school and college runner, what advice do you think you could offer to anyone still running and competing at a high level?

Enjoy every moment of it and take nothing for granted. You never know when you might not be able to do what you love. Choose a major, a college, and a location that supports all your interests besides just your running focus to maximize your full college experience. Beginning proper time management of academics in high school is critical to succeeding in college as a student athlete.

Use the gift that God gave you, don't waste it. Make smart decisions and control what you can.   Every little thing we do, no matter how mundane, like chopping wood and carrying water matters greatly when it is multiplied by the number of times we do it. Over time, even the smallest habit or choice can change our lives immensely. Inches are what separate successful people from everyone else. 

Quoting one of my favorite books, Chop Wood, Carry Water, How to Fall in Love with the Process of Being Great, "Greatness isn't for the chosen few. Greatness is for the few who choose." 

"Under pressure, you don't rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training, that is why we train so hard."