MUSCATINE — Regan France admitted she had no interest in running at the college level.

Then last spring's Iowa state track and field meet happened.

France was in three events as a junior, and Drake Stadium provided a bright spotlight for college recruiters to discover France's running talent.

"When the coaches started reaching out, I saw more opportunities that I wouldn't have if I didn't run," France said.

One of the more consistent college contacts France had was at Division-II Minnesota State University Moorhead, and France confirmed on Monday that she would continue to run track and cross country as a Dragon.

The next day, she placed fourth at the Iowa Mennonite Early Bird cross country meet as the Muskies claimed the team title.

"I'm happy that she made this decision and can concentrate on her running for the rest of the season," Muscatine girls cross country coach Tim Armstrong said. "I think that made a big difference for her."

The college choice for France came down to Division-I Western Illinois and MSUM.

After looking at information online and talking to coaches, France saw something exciting in Moorhead, and not just for the Dragons' athletic programs.

"I set up a visit and went there and I loved it," France said. "I really loved the town and it's like in the Fargo-area ... kind of this up-and-coming area.  I really liked that and I really liked the coach."

France was recruited for track and she said she will likely run 800 and 1500-meter races, but the MSUM coaches also encouraged her to stay in cross country to keep in race shape. She was 20th in the 800 in her first state appearance in the event last spring.

She'll be in good company with her teammates at the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference school, including Tia Knight, an All-American in the 100-meter hurdles last season.

"They were better than some of the D-I schools I looked at," France said. "I figured the coach must be doing something right there."

Armstrong wasn't surprised that France decided to take the leap to the college level after being sparked on by last season's trips to the state meet for track as well as cross country.

He also noted that he's hearing a lot more questions from some of France's senior teammates asking what they need to do to make that commitment.

"We have a lot of girls that can run at that college level," Armstrong said, "it's just having the confidence that they can do that."

Though France is undecided on what she'll be studying as a major at MSUM, she'll have time to decide while taking in the new scenery in Moorhead.

In the meantime, she'll be contemplating potential future successes.

"I can't wait to see how good I really can get," France said. "We have great coaches here but college is such a new thing, and the coach is talking about people making big jumps. I'm hoping I can do that as well, and I'm excited to see what I can do."

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