In rookie year, Pinson breaks out as one of team’s top runners

The freshman runner has moved four times before settling at the university.

Freshman distance runner Katie Pinson jogs at Belmont Plateau during the Big 5 Invitational earlier this season. Greg Frangipani | TTN
Freshman distance runner Katie Pinson jogs at Belmont Plateau during the Big 5 Invitational earlier this season. Greg Frangipani | TTN

Throughout her 18 years, freshman Katie Pinson has moved five times. She’s lived in two hemispheres, two countries and three states.

After going through all of these changes, she now finds herself as a freshman at Temple, and one of the top runners on the women’s Division I cross country team.

As a freshman, Pinson has placed second on the team in each of the Owls’ four meets this season. Her best time came at the Penn State National Invitational, where she finished the 6-kilometer race in 22 minutes, 33 seconds. Pinson’s time at the American Athletic Conference Championships was two seconds slower at 22:35.

After living in Troy, Michigan for the bulk of her life, Pinson and her family moved to North Granby, Connecticut, her fourth hometown. It was in North Granby that Pinson fell in love with cross country.

Before becoming a cross country runner, she spent most of her time on the soccer field.

“I credit a lot of my running now to soccer,” Pinson said. “I got a lot of strength from soccer because it’s a very power intensive sport and I had been running track for all of these years. So the transition to cross [country] wasn’t as difficult as you’d think.”

Pinson is in her second year of running cross country. Prospective student-athletes are typically recruited directly by schools on the Division I level, but as Pinson had a late start to her high school career, she said she had to reach out to schools on her own.

“Katie was a girl who had reached out to us,” cross country coach James Snyder said. “She was a girl who responded to our questionnaire and we started communicating with her. The earliest thing we could tell from Katie was that [she] was a girl who was incredibly driven with the desire to be great.”

Snyder said he’s pleased that Pinson chose to come to Temple and feels she is a perfect fit for the program he is trying to build on the women’s side.

“She’s the type of kid we need in our program, both academically and athletically,” Snyder said. “She’s someone who chose Temple because she said she loved the grit of North Philadelphia.”

Another reason for her joining the university, she said, was a result of her uniformed hometown.

“I really wanted to be in a city,” Pinson said. “I never had a chance to live in the city. North Granby didn’t have a lot of culture. I really like the grit here [in North Philadelphia] because over the course of my moves, I didn’t have that.”

Snyder said Pinson’s resilience has been something that has helped her excel in her rookie season.

“Distance running is all about stringing together days, weeks, months, hopefully years of uninterrupted training,” Snyder said. “It takes a unique mindset to go through that grind. Katie seemed like not only someone who was prepared to do that, but someone who would thrive in that type of environment.”

This isn’t something that has surprised Snyder. In fact, he said he had high expectations for the freshman heading into the fall.

“I would say that I am pleasantly surprised by her performances, but I’m not going to say it was entirely unexpected,” Snyder said. “We kind of knew all along that she was going to be someone we could lean on right away and a girl who was going to come in and make an impact for us.”

As for Pinson, she said she is nervous at the prospect of filling senior Jenna Dubrow’s spot as the team’s No. 1 runner next fall, but she said she’s confident in her ability to take that role in stride.

“Having Jenna in front of me has been really helpful as far as my training goes because she’s comfortable in what she’s doing,” she said. “That’s going to be me next year and it’s kind of scary.”

Ed LeFurge III can be reached at and on twitter @Ed_LeFurge_III

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