Oct. 29, 2013
By Josh McSwain, Student Writer
When Kaitlyn Fischer was in eighth grade, she was a sprinter on her school's track team while her friends ran distance. Alone amongst the sprinters, she decided to run distance in practice one day. While her friends were sucking wind, Kaitlyn was able to carry on one sided conversations as she ran. Seeing this, her coach added his own persuasion to get her to run distance, and she did. That day, in Pevely, Missouri, a star was born.
While she also was a cheerleader in ninth grade, she knew distance running was her true niche. She didn't like cheerleading at all, and enjoyed being with her teammates on the cross country team more.
Out of the 1600, 3200 and 5k, her favorite race is the 5k. "I like the distance aspect, seeing how far my body can go and pushing myself--seeing how I can go at a certain pace, more challenging" she explained, "I like to go after it."
When it came time to pick a college to attend, she chose Mizzou because she like the "atmosphere, campus, team and conversations with coach Lynn were better in relation to other coaches, I liked the team philosophy more". She added her admiration for what coach Lynn had been able to do in the past, he had been able to take teams with less talent and make them into good teams, and she trusted his method more because of the results it had produced.
This season has been an eventful one for her and the team, but her favorite moment so far is the Bradley meet, where she finished third and they "proved themselves as a team". Working together, they won the meet and elevated themselves to fourth in the regional rankings.
With the SEC championships coming up, some different steps are being taken. The practices are different - not quite as much distance as usual, and they are taking extra care of their bodies. "They are making us take more sodium because it's in Florida, making us drink this nasty sodium gatorade," she explained.
Looking back on this season, she thinks that she handled the changes to college life well. She acclimated to the difference in situations well, and that she has improved her running form as well. She even realized her form left much room for improvement, which she has experienced throughout this season. But if she could do something differently, it would be to listen to her body more, and be more positive. To take things one at a time, and not freak out before workouts, realize there is no reason to be scared.
While Kaitlyn getting into cross country was her discovering her hidden talent, six hundred miles north of her, in Lake Orion, Michigan, freshman T.J. Carey also found his penchant for distance running in a fortuitous manner. That year, a couple friends of his decided not to play football and decided to check out cross country on one of their "food runs", where they run to to Coney Island (in Detroit, not New York) which was only a few miles.
T.J. played basketball his freshman and sophomore years, while he loved basketball, he said, "I liked running more, and it was time to get serious about running, it was the smarter direction". He added that his coaches provided some coercion in his decision to go after running instead of basketball.
T.J. said that his favorite race is the mile. He explained that "it's the perfect distance, it's not too long but has the speed aspect too". It helps he's excellent at it--he won the state title in the race his senior year, which he said was his favorite race of his life so far. He also ran the 800 and 4x400m relay on his high school team.
Like Kaitlyn, T.J. chose the black and gold partly because of the team. But T.J. emphasized the "youth of the team, really talented. team has a lot of passion and the team is going in the right direction".
But with coming to college, some apprehension is normal. T.J. explained that before he came to Mizzou he was afraid of how different everything would be because the level of athletics and academics goes up, but he thinks he's handled it well. He seconded Kaitlyn's opinion that in college everyone is good, and he said that in high school there would only be one or two other people that were good, and he said now it feels like it's going up against "a million of you's". The other difference he's added is that in high school his life was more centered around school, where now his days revolve more around practice.
His favorite moment this season was the Wisconsin meet, even though it was not the best finish he said everything clicked better--finishing on par with expectations. T.J. placed fourth on the team with a time of 24:40.
Looking back on this season, he says that he did a good job of not getting in over his head with all the new responsibilities college brings, and didn't try to impress anyone, just went about his own business. But he added that he could have been more organized, because it's easy to fall behind in classes if not.
Coach Joe Lynn also lauded his two newest runners, saying they both "good people who fit into our culture, they are focused, have good work ethics, and do good things as a team". He also said they meshed with the team well, they came to Columbia early and took summer classes while they got to know their teammates and acclimated themselves with their new surroundings. He added that both of them have performed beyond their years so far. He said T.J. "ran at a great level from the beginning-faster than most freshmen at his age" and Kaitlyn "has shown a lot of maturity in training, handled not winning well, and prevented getting caught up in all the things that could distract her". He concluded by saying that both of them are very detail oriented, and will be great leaders in the future, but in the short term just need to keep sharpening the saw.