Editor’s note: This profile on Diane Loughlin Urick ’89 is the eighth in a 13-part series by Valerie Turgeon ’13 on the alumni who will be inducted into the St. Thomas Athletic Hall of Fame on Sept. 19. Read a new profile every day in tommiesports.com.
Diane Loughlin Urick’s path may not have been typical for a runner, but it was certainly successful.
During her senior year of high school, Urick transitioned from sprinting to long-distance running, which she continued as a freshman at University of Missouri. After one year, she decided to move back to her home state and attend the University of Minnesota.
“That was before the day of cell phones,” Urick said. “It was a lot harder to stay in contact with family, so I wanted to be closer to home.”
With still being on scholarship at Missouri, Urick could not run for Minnesota, and she also realized that a large state school was not the right fit for her. She transferred to St. Thomas and finished her final two years of college running track and field and cross country, and she competed on five conference championship teams.
The transition from Division I to Division III was not difficult for Urick. “The girls were running just as fast at St. Thomas as they were at any D-I school,” she said. That included her own resume as she became a seven-time Division III All-America distance runner.
In track, as a junior in the 1988 indoor nationals, Urick placed fourth in the 1,500 meters and came back to take second as a senior. At outdoor nationals, she placed fifth in the 1,500 and 800 as a junior, and she was third in the 3,000 and fifth in the 1,500 as a senior. Her MIAC outdoor track meet record of 4:33 for the 1,500 meters stood from 1988 until 2008.
In cross country, Urick ran on the Tommies’ NCAA co-champion squad in 1987 and placed 41st individually. She considers this a standout moment in her athletic career.
“I had just joined the team, and being able to be on a team at nationals was an amazing experience,” she said. “I wasn’t the top runner, but I was proud to still score.”
She was the national individual runner-up in 1988 to help St. Thomas take second as a team.
After her athletic career, Urick received her master’s degree in curriculum instruction from Hamline and taught for 10 years in Annandale, Minn., where she also coached track and field. Today, she is a second grade teacher in Orono public schools.
Competitive running is still part of her life. She competes in anything from one-mile races to marathons and does a lot of 5Ks, and while she no longer coaches, “I’m now a cheerleader and supporter for my kids.” Kaila, 21, a junior at the University of Minnesota, runs for the Gophers and Jenna, 19, and Spencer, 16, are in track and field and cross country at their high school.
Running is a family affair joined by her husband and St. Thomas alumnus Marty Urick ’89. They met on the St. Thomas track team, he proposed under the Arches and they got married in 1990 in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Urick never expected to be in the St. Thomas Hall of Fame.
“I was shocked because I was there for only two and a half years,” she said, “and there are so many other talented athletes. I am truly humbled.”
She thanked Joe Sweeney for “being a coach who inspires, motivates and believes in all of his runners. He has made his mark on so many women in his coaching career. I am truly lucky to have been coached and guided by him.”
St. Thomas also left its mark on Urick.
“I am so grateful to the University of St. Thomas for the wonderful education and athletic experience,” she said. “St. Thomas gave me not only a professional future, but a personal future –- my husband, Marty.”
Jake Barkley 2003 Football
Nikki Conway 2006 Softball
Roman Cress 2003 Track & Field
Carrie Embree 2007 Softball, Basketball
Jane Gibbs-Becker 2004 Volleyball
Kristal Grigsby 2006 Track & Field
Andrew Hilliard 2003 Track & Field, Football
Diane Loughlin Urick 1989 Track & Field, Cross Country
Janet Nagle 2006 Softball
Steve Pignato 1997 Baseball
Isaac Rosefelt 2007 Basketball
Tessie Thompson 2003 Soccer
Michelle Wong 2005 Softball