Katie Pinson made a name for herself after claiming a fifth-place finish out of 40 runners at the 2014 Penn State National Invitational on Saturday.
The freshman finished the 6-kilometer race in 22 minutes, 33 seconds to help the women’s cross country team finish fourth overall. Her mark was second for the Owls behind senior Jenna Dubrow, who finished the race in 21 minutes, 59 seconds, claiming a second-place finish.
As a team, the Owls finished behind Duquesne, Penn State and Towson, respectively.
“I felt really good starting the race,” Pinson said. “I was a little surprised because I started the race with Jenna and I usually don’t do that, I kind of hang out for a little bit and then pick up as I go.”
Dubrow and Pinson have been clear standouts amongst the team so far this season. In fact, the two runners have finished one-two for the Owls at every meet this season since the Covered Bridge Open at Appalachian State University on Aug. 29.
That said, it was only natural for the two to group up and stick together on Saturday.
“It was very helpful having [Dubrow] there at this particular race because I could just kind of hang on and stay right with her,” Pinson said. “Our coach really stresses the grouping up and running together because ultimately if you run together you have a better chance of placing higher.”
It seems that the grouping strategy paid off. Along with coach James Snyder, Pinson was also pleasantly surprised with her impressive finish.
“It was really cool finishing up at the top at a collegiate meet as a freshman, but I definitely did not anticipate that kind of finish,” Pinson said.
With the team winding down on their 2014 season, the Owls only have four meets left to compete in. All the meets to follow Saturday’s are major conference meets for the Owls, which means the expectations and pressure are sure to grow.
“[It was] a great race for her young career,” Snyder said. “We certainly have high expectations for her moving forward.”
The Owls have two weeks off for training before heading to the University of Tulsa to compete in the American Athletic Conference Championships. Pinson says she’s thrilled to compete in her first collegiate championship meet.
“It’s going to be a new experience but everything we’re doing so far is a new experience since I’m a freshman,” Pinson said. “I’m looking forward to it but it’s going to be a bigger meet so there’s going to be more pressure. I’m sure I’m going to have some serious butterflies in my stomach when I step on the line, but I’m hoping for the best.”
The American Athletic Conference Championships will be held at Tulsa on Friday, Oct. 31.
Tyler Device can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.