Junior Katie Wetzstein placed third at the Summit League Championship to help the University of South Dakota women’s cross-country team capture its first conference title. Her younger sister, Erin, is a first-year runner for the Coyotes.
Alanna Schmeichel: Why did you come to South Dakota?
Katie Wetzstein: I came from Hudson, Wisc., but USD was a good fit both academically and athletically. USD had the major I was looking for and what I wanted academically. Then I liked the head coach and his coaching style.
A.S.: Do you like having your sister on the team?
K.W.: It is really helpful having someone that knows me so well. We are really close, and in high school we trained and ran together. We didn’t run a lot together this year, but it was nice having someone on the same training program during the summer.
A.S.: What is your favorite part about cross-country?
K.W.: My favorite part is the team aspect. Compared to track, we are a lot closer. The scoring is so much different, and the only way to win is if every girl on the team does her job. It is also not as boring because of all the hills and different terrain.
A.S.: How did you get interested in cross-country?
K.W.: It started back in sixth-grade because it was the only sport you could do at that age. I wasn’t really good at it, and it bothered me. So then I actually started training and running on my own and I discovered that I really liked the sport.
A.S.: What were your goals for the season?
K.W.: The team’s (goal was) to win conference and we did that. Because we often run the same courses, my goal is to run each course faster than the year before.
A.S.: Did you accomplish that?
K.W.: I think I accomplished that at every meet. The season was an overall success.
A.S.: What is your role on the team?
K.W.: Amber (Eichkorn) and myself have been leaders since we came in as freshmen. Our coach wanted us to come in and create the program we have now. I specifically lead by example.
A.S.: How do you impact the first-years?
K.W.: As a captain, I try to walk them through everything, teach them and tell them what to expect. Most of them are used to being the best on their team, and freshman year is totally different. My freshman year I got hurt right before regionals, so I can understand what they are going through whether it is injuries or disappointment. I often tell them it doesn’t matter if things aren’t going the right way — they still have three years, and it is a work in progress.
A.S.: How do you balance running and school?
K.W.: Sometimes it can be challenging because certain weeks are heavy with homework and we miss a lot of school. Planning ahead and time management are most important. Sometimes I have to realize school comes first and I am here to get a degree.
A.S.: What is your intended major?
K.W.: I chose medical biology because I knew I wanted to do something in the medical field. I like that the classes challenge me. My dream job would be a physical therapist dealing with children.
(Photo: Junior Katie Wetzstein, left, warms up in the DakotaDome Nov. 17 before the womens cross country practice. Wetzstein was one of the Coyote’s at every meet in the 2013 season and earned second-team All-Summit League honors. Malachi Petersen / The Volante)