Pepperell’s Tyler McLaren running in the New England Championships for cross country. The 2018 grad was the most decorated runner in Southern New
Pepperell's Tyler McLaren running in the New England Championships for cross country. The 2018 grad was the most decorated runner in Southern New Hampshire University history. SNHU COURTESY PHOTO

Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

A person's legacy could be as simple as a word they spoke, an action they performed, or an achievement they earned. For some, legacies entail multiple elements.

Tyler McLaren, a 2018 graduate of Southern New Hampshire University, is one of those people whose achievements were the result of hard work and commitment -- and a little bit of reading.

McLaren, a native of Pepperell, was not highly touted coming out of Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua. He was a hockey player first and foremost and he suffered an ACL tear in his senior year. Not a good thing for any college-bound athlete.

Still, four years later he graduated from SNHU having won the award for the Northeast-10 Conference Man of the Year, as a cross country standout.

In addition, McLaren also won the NE-10 Men's Cross Country Excellence Award for academics. And his achievements did not stop there.

During his senior year McLaren won the Bruce Kirsch Cup and the Vermont Tech Invitational, he was a two-time NE-10 Athlete of the Week, a member of the NE-10 All-Conference First Team, was awarded Coaches Association All-Region honors, and was the runner-up in the New England and NE-10 Championships and NCAA East Regional.

To top it all off he became only the second runner in SNHU history to qualify for the NCAA Championships.

Once he got there he ran a 32:02 for 10K and came in 43rd out of 249 runners, just three spots away from All-America honors.


Advertisement

For McLaren, who graduated magna cum laude this past spring and now works for Boston Capital Leasing in Tampa, Fla., his path to success came about late in his career at Guertin.

"I did cross country all four years. I had pneumonia two years in a row freshman and sophomore year so I actually never did track until my junior year," he said. "My senior year I couldn't do track because I tore my ACL."

Despite these numerous setbacks, McLaren knew his best potential was in cross country.

"After my junior year track season I realized that I could potentially get a scholarship. I really put in a lot of effort over the offseason and that effort kind of showed and allowed me to get a scholarship to Southern New Hampshire," he said.

McLaren was in at SNHU, but he would be entering his freshman year on a knee that was still recovering. "I tore my ACL playing soccer the day after the New England track meet," he said.

Luckily for McLaren, he had the support of then-SNHU cross country head coach Joanne Dow. "If it was a big program they might have cut my scholarship because obviously it's a pretty traumatic injury," he said.

"Not everyone recovers the same way but SNHU is a small program and the coach is really down to earth and really family-oriented. More than anything my coach just really wanted me to get back to health and she really didn't rush me or anything. I have to thank her for that," said McLaren.

McLaren put together a solid freshman season and was twice named the Northeast-10 Rookie of the Week.

The change

The real difference for McLaren came late in his first year in Manchester.

"It was in the second semester that I read a book my parents got me about personal development and it really flipped a switch in my head," he said. "Just getting a college degree wasn't going to cut it and I really had to go above and beyond to really be where I want to be as far as my career and my life go."

That book was "The Compound Effect" by Darren Hardy. McLaren was not an avid reader but he ended up devouring it.

"I hated reading before that. My parents got it for me, probably for Christmas or something. I brought it back to school and it sat in my closet," he said. "One day I was bored, tired of playing video games, I decided to pick it up and read it, and like I said it made a huge difference. Ever since then I've been a completely different person. Really self-disciplined, really focused on personal development and personal growth and my whole life is structured around that now."

Years later, McLaren was in Long Island, N.Y., accepting his Man of the Year Award at Adelphi University. Lex Butler, the head cross country and women's track and field coach, was not the least bit surprised. 

"When you talk to Tyler it's not a surprise at all," Butler said. "He took his academics very seriously, he took his training very seriously, and he took his lifestyle very seriously. All that translated into all the accomplishments that he was awarded and he deserved every bit of it."

Dedication to succeed

Butler took over after McLaren's freshman year. It wasn't obvious he had such a tremendous talent on his hands.

"It just kind of goes to show that if you dedicate yourself to something then you are more likely than not to succeed," said Butler.

That was exactly what McLaren did: "My freshman year I guess I was under the impression that everything was going to be handed to me and by senior year I realized that you pretty much have to do everything yourself."

Now McLaren has a claim as the best runner to come out of SNHU cross country since the program's inception in 2007.

"Having him here all four years and being able to point out his progression throughout the four years and see how much he did develop into a stellar athlete allows us to hopefully bring in more top talent in the future," said Butler.

As far as McLaren, he is not done running. Even after breaking his ankle in February and having to adjust to the Florida heat, he has his eyes set on another goal.

"I plan on running Boston (Marathon) and I have some goals set for qualifying and running a pretty quick time there," he said.

The honor of being the Man of the Year is not lost on him, either.

"I was definitely shocked and definitely honored. I really didn't think I was going to win that," he said. "I had been nominated for another award (Student-Athlete of the Year) so I was just assuming that if I got an award it was going to be that. It made me think about all the people who helped get me there because I couldn't have done it without the help of my professors, coaches, or the support system from my family and friends."