To get some insight on recruitment and running in college, I reached out to two of my former teammates, Kileigh and Anna. They are both doing big things at the collegiate level, so I thought it would be interesting to hear their perspectives on their recruiting/running experiences.
Kileigh Kane, who runs for Penn State, was not only a great teammate but also a role model for me because she pushed me to become a better runner. Anna Kwasnica, who runs for Allegheny College, was really supportive of me as my “big sister” during my sophomore year of cross country. Here are their responses:
1. What made you decide to run for your school?
Kileigh: I chose Penn State because of the trust I felt in the coaches and their training, as well as the feeling of the team atmosphere. Not only did the team have high academic standards, they also had lofty athletic goals. I wanted a good focus on academics, as well as being in a place where they wanted to achieve great things. It was important to me to be a part of a team where everyone shared the same championship mentality on and off the track, and I found this at Penn State. My coaches also took the time to get to know me outside of running and it was important for me to form a relationship with them that went beyond the track.
Anna: Running was always one of the most important parts of my life in high school, so I knew it was something I wanted to continue in college. Going to practice everyday and seeing my teammates was what motivated me to get through the school day, and I couldn’t imagine living without this. Allegheny specifically stood out to me because they had such a welcoming and friendly team environment. Even on my visits I could tell how much everyone on the team supported each other, as well as how amazing the coach is. I also was drawn to Allegheny because of the small class sizes and great professors, and their psychology and political science programs (which I’m double majoring in).
2. What is your favorite part about running at your school?
Kileigh: My favorite part about running at Penn State is running for something bigger than myself. I take pride in repping the nittany lion on my chest and knowing that I have an entire program standing behind me with every big and small accomplishment. The unwavering support from coaches and teammates is incredible and it makes it all the more fun to get out there and run alongside teammates. The bonds and friendships that I’ve formed with teammates will last a lifetime, and it’s such a fulfilling feeling knowing that your teammates are with you every step of the way, no matter how rocky your journey may be.
Anna: My favorite part is definitely my teammates! Everyone works really hard everyday to push each other and make ourselves the best we can be as a team, not just individually. I’ve met some of my best friends through college running and having such a supportive group of people really makes Allegheny feel like home.
3. How was the transition from high school to college training for you?
Kileigh: I had a fairly smooth transition into collegiate training. I dealt with an injury the summer going into my freshman year and I wasn’t able to run, so when I started progressing back into running, I went right into my new training. The biggest change for me was running higher mileage, and doing more aerobic based workouts rather than speed based. While there were some bumps in the road, I always had the support from coaches and teammates getting me through any hardship.
Anna: Honestly I was surprised at how different college training is from high school training. In college, we have fewer speed workouts and more long distance runs. Our training is based more on building mileage over the summer and early in the season so that we’re prepared to run our fastest at championship meets. College running is also much more team-oriented and less focused on individual victories. While the transition was hard at first, I adjusted pretty quickly with the support of my teammates and coach.
4. When did you start reaching out to college coaches?
Kileigh: I started filling out recruiting questionnaires during the fall of my junior year. I slowly filled out more as each season went by and my times dropped. I started hearing back from coaches and talking to them in March of my junior year, and from there I was able to narrow my search until I found 4 schools where I felt connected with the coaches and that I wanted to visit. However, it was on my visit to Penn State that I felt most at home, and connected most with the staff and team.
Anna: I started talking to coaches the summer before my senior year.
5. Is it challenging to balance athletics and academics in college?
Kileigh: It’s definitely a hard transition at first. After all, you’re in a whole new place surrounded with new people, and you’re trying to figure out exactly how college works. It’s helpful to have good time management skills and set schedules, and within a few weeks you’re in a steady rhythm. Penn State also has a plethora of resources, such as the Morgan Academic Center, where the staff is incredibly helpful. It’s also comforting knowing that your freshman peers are going through the same thing as you, so you can always talk to them about it and see how they are dealing with the transition as well!
Anna: Balancing them can sometimes be a bit challenging, but being at a small school where my professors know me personally definitely makes it easier. My coach is also mindful of my academic commitments, and understands that schoolwork comes first. Personally, I find it less challenging to balance running and academics in college than it was in high school, as I have more freetime and people are more supportive.
6. Do you have any other advice for rising juniors and seniors about the recruiting process for collegiate running?
Kileigh: My advice would be to take it slow. The recruiting process is a stressful thing and you don’t want it to have an effect on your running. Take the recruiting process one day at a time, and talk to friends, family and your current coach about it! It’s always good to hear advice from another person’s perspective. Also- be honest when talking to college coaches and make an effort to get to know them as a person, not just as a coach!:)
Anna: It’s never too early to start contacting coaches! Even if you aren’t 100% sure you want to run in college, talking to coaches and visiting schools can help you make up your mind.
Thank you Kileigh and Anna for sharing!
I am continuing to build up my mileage with longer runs and more progression workouts. I’m also continuing to cross-train and strength train to build a strong base for the season!