A Q&A With Katie Eidem

(Photo provided by Katie Eidem)

First of all, how did you first get involved with track & field?

In 7th grade I had just finished basketball season after also playing volleyball. I was trying to decide whether to play a spring sport. In elementary school I had done pretty well at track and field days, and it seemed like track could be interesting, but some people talked about how hard the workouts were, and I wasn't sure if that's what I wanted to do. A good friend convinced me to try it with her, and I ended up on the varsity team that year.  I have loved it ever since and can't imagine what my life would be like without track today.

What are all your personal records?

High Jump: 5'7"

100m: 12.84

200m: 26.42

400m: 57.31

800m: 2:19.46

4x400m: 4:02.91 (split 57.17)

Do you do, or have you done, any other sports?

I started playing basketball in 5th grade and played through 10th grade. I sprained my ankle in the last regular season game just before track season started. That was the primary reason why I decided not to continue playing basketball. I knew track was what I wanted to pursue in college, and playing basketball wasn't worth the risk of possibly missing part of a track season. I also played volleyball from 7th grade through 11th grade. My senior year I realized that if I was to achieve my goals in track, I'd need to train for it all year round, so I dropped volleyball also.

What is your favorite or most memorable competition you've ever been in?

Two track meets stand out from the 2016 season. The first was the Big 9 Conference meet. When it came time for the 4x400 relay, we realized that we could win the conference title if we won that race. When I got the baton for the anchor leg, our team was in 2nd place by about 15 meters. All I could think of was catching the girl in front of me, and I just kept steadily closing the distance between us. Once I hit the home stretch I found another gear, passed her with about 70m left, and focused on the finish line. My teammates and coach were all at the finish line cheering and crying with excitement. The second meet was the Section meet. Century hadn't sent a relay team to State in years, and our 4x400 relay wanted to change that. Again, I anchored the relay, and this time I got the baton with our team in 4th place. I quickly passed the girl in front of me putting us in 3rd, and 1st place was clearly way out of reach, but the top 2 teams advance to state. Coming into the home stretch, the 2nd place girl was about 5m in front of me. I gave it my all, and we ended with a photo finish. Nobody was sure who had come in 2nd for about 10 minutes. It turned out that Century edged out the other team by .003 seconds! It was awesome to be going to State as part of a relay team.

Your versatility is pretty obvious by looking at your list of PRs. Is there any particular event that you focus on or enjoy more than the others?

Up through my sophomore year, the 400 was my main event. I had high jumped a little up to that point, but being at a school without track facilities made field events difficult to practice. When circumstances led to a school transfer for my junior year, I was able to practice high jumping on a regular basis. Throughout my junior season, high jump became more of my signature event, though the 400 will always be one of my favorites. 

(Photo provided by Katie Eidem)

Other than your own teammates, who are some of your favorite athletes to compete against?

Erica Benson is a great competitor in high jump and forces me to be at the top of my game. In years past, Morgan Shindelar pushed me to a few PRs in the 200, and Maddy Kammer was someone I enjoyed competing against in the 400. Also in the 400 now is Honour Finley who has really set the bar high for me.

Who are some people that have been most helpful to you in your athletic career?

My coaches have always been there to encourage and push me further. My head coach, Kris Allen, has given so much of her time to help me improve each of my events. She has a way of calming the pre-race nerves, helping me keep things in perspective, and pushing me to give my best every day. My parents have always been there to support me at every meet. My teammates Kinga Mozes and Ellie Luinenburg push me every day in practice and keep things fun.

What is a challenge you have had to face as an athlete?

My freshman and sophomore years I had a lot of knee problems. Fortunately, those went away when I started lifting. All 6 years I've been running I've had shin splints that have altered my training and taken their toll on some races. Also, dropping other sports that I really enjoy in order to focus on track was a tough decision, but it is paying off.

What are your main goals for this upcoming track season?

I'd really love to be able to high jump a state record 6' and win the state title in that event this year. In the 400 I'd like to run a 55, and a 25 in the 200. As a team I'd like to defend our Big 9 Conference title.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't find any record of you high jumping over five feet before last season, and now you've jumped 5'7". First, to what can you attribute that improvement, and second, have you always thought you were capable of jumping as well as you hope to?

Yes, my high jump PR through my sophomore year was 5'0". At that time I was only able to practice high jump a few times during the season and only jumped a handful of times at meets. There are several reasons for that improvement over the last year. First was having track facilities and being able to practice high jump regularly. Along with that, improvement came from having a coach to critique my high jump and tweak my technique as well as create practice routines that targeted skills required for high jump. Lastly, having a weight room for strength workouts really helped both my speed and jumping ability. I always thought that I was capable of jumping high based on my vertical jump which was tested for volleyball each year. It kept improving every year, and it follows that my high jump could also improve. No matter what I jump (or how fast I run), my goal will always be to improve on that.

(Photo provided by Katie Eidem)

Do you have any college plans?

I will attend Arizona State University this fall and will compete in track while studying biology and psychology.

What were some of the things that most attracted you to Arizona State?

My plan is to major in biological sciences, but I didn't want to just be a general biology major. ASU has several more specialized areas within biology, which I really like. I love the updated campus facilities and the fact that ASU now has a partnership with Mayo Clinic. ASU's track program has a history of producing top-notch athletes, and I am privileged to be able to compete in track there. It will also be a plus to train in warm weather year round! 

Do you have any rituals, routines, or superstitions either on or off the track?

I do a handshake with one of my coaches before every event. Also our 4x400 relay team each has to hug another teammate, Sydney Hollman, before we run the relay, and we also do a routine cheer with the baton to get us pumped up.

When not doing anything track-related, what might we find you doing?

When I'm not at track, I'm either with my friends, doing homework, at work, or at other sporting events.

Tell me one bizarre fact about yourself.

Most high jumpers are really flexible. Although I took gymnastics when I was a kid, I can't even touch my toes (but I'm working on it).