A standout for Rochester Century, Katie Eidem was a 7x state meet qualifier and twice finished runner-up at state in the 400m. She then went onto compete at Arizona State University where she went from just doing the high jump, to becoming one of ASUs best heptathletes ever.
Eidem is now graduated from ASU but aspires to make great strides in her sport to become a pro track and field athlete. We at MileSplit Minnesota recently caught up with Katie Eidem to talk about her college transition, her high school career, and her future.
Discuss the transition from high school competition to competing at the college level. What adjustments have you had to make in order to be as successful as possible?
Adjusting to the collegiate level was hard. I went from being used to being one of the best in high school to being mediocre at best at the college level. It took a lot of resilience and hard work to become successful at ASU. I wouldn't say I felt any of that success until my junior year. That was the year that I got a new coach and made the switch over to the multi-events. I spent a lot of time both on and off the track trying to learn the ins and outs of the heptathlon and how I could apply that in my remaining two seasons at ASU.
Tell us about your training regimen by giving a general overview of what goes into getting prepared for your next big event.
Training as a Heptathlete can be pretty intense. I usually train between 3 and 7 hours a day for 4 or 5 days a week. In the off-season I'll lift 3 days a week and when I'm in season I'll lift 2 days a week. Now that I'm in season, I'll either have two practices a day or a really long practice to cover two different events.
What athletic-based goals do you hope to accomplish during this upcoming year?
This upcoming season will be my first out of college. This year I'd like to compete at USA Championships and qualify for a US team (there are a few different US teams to make aside from World Championships). World Championships would be the dream, but I'm also still relatively new at the Heptathlon so I realize that it may take me a few more years to get to that level.
Do you have any advice that you can offer an incoming freshman on how to best deal with the higher level of competition they'll encounter at the college level? Also, what tips can you provide regarding the balance between training commitments and academic demands?
College athletics is much more demanding on your body, so be proactive about getting treatment and doing PT. Always show up early and ready to go. Don't come in with the mindset that you are already great; work hard every day as if you still have something to prove and greatness will follow.
As far as balance goes, find a routine that works for you. There are a lot of lifestyle changes when you get to college, you're making your own decisions now. Surround yourself with people who have your best interests in mind. Don't procrastinate on schoolwork. Don't overdo it on the number of credits you take and spread out your class schedule the best you can. When you take care of business in the classroom, you can handle business in your sport much better.
What have been the highlights of your college career to this point?
Breaking the 4000-point barrier in the pentathlon last indoor season was definitely a highlight. After doing that I knew I had the potential to be really good at the multi-events for years to come.
Also, getting to anchor the 4x4 my whole senior season. The 400m was my event in high school, and I definitely missed competing in it in college. So getting to anchor the 4x4 every weekend and consistently split 54-second legs while doing so was fun. Our relay team made regionals this past year, so anchoring the 4x4 was my last college race. Definitely a full circle moment coming from being one of the best high school 400m runners in Minnesota.
How challenging was it for you to make the switch from primarily a sprinter in high school to a heptathlete at the collegiate level?
In high school I competed in a variety of sprints and also high jumped. I came into ASU as just a high jumper for my freshman and sophomore seasons. It was really hard going from the variety of events I did in high school to just the high jump in college. I was really excited to have the opportunity to transition to the Heptathlon when the opportunity presented itself my junior year. I love having a variety of events to compete in again, especially the running events.
You finished your ASU career as their 5th best heptathlete ever by points. How does it feel to finish as one of their all-time greats?
I have the 3rd best pentathlon mark and the 5th best heptathlon mark at ASU. To be able to be top 5 in school history in both is pretty cool given my story. I first competed in the Pentathlon indoors as a junior in 2020 - obviously, Covid canceled our outdoor season, so I didn't even compete in a Heptathlon until my redshirt junior year in 2021. I really only had two years to learn and compete in the Heptathlon, so the fact that I was able to put my name in the ASU record books is pretty special.
How do you plan to keep competing as a track and field athlete as a graduate?
Going pro in the sport of track and field is hard. I unfortunately didn't end my senior season the way I had hoped so that definitely complicated things. However, I know I have incredible potential in the sport since I am still so new and learning so much about the Heptathlon. I think that the 2023 season will be all about going out there and showing the world what I knew I was capable of doing last year and then some. Once that's out, I hope to pick up some sponsors and funding going into future seasons.
I plan to continue sharing my passion for the sport on my social media channels and grow a decent following there in doing so. My hope is to inspire the next generation of athletes while living out my dreams of competing at the highest level in this sport.
Looking back to high school, what are some valuable lessons you learned there that made you into the person you are today?
In high school I learned to be gritty. I was the underdog since I first came out for track in 7th grade. I was constantly defying the odds, but I worked really hard to do that. Even when adversity would strike, I was too stubborn to let anything get in the way of me chasing my dreams.
What high school accomplishment were you most proud of?
I'm most proud of my 2nd place state meet finish in the 400m my senior year. The time of 56.55 is still my high school 400m record. Honour Finley was an incredible athlete that I got to compete against at state for a few years that helped push me to that time. I actually ran against her this past season (2022) in the 4x4 as she was competing for Kansas. It was cool to be able to compete in college against someone I competed against in high school.
Outside of track and field, what are you up to?
I'm still trying to figure out a career path that suits me best. I think NIL in college athletics is an up-and-coming field that I would love to stay involved in. I've consulted with some student-athletes on monetizing their social media platforms and being able to take advantage of this new NIL era. I'd love to build upon that in the future. I'm also considering getting into coaching. My schedule is pretty crazy at the moment, so I try to squeeze in what I can.