Conlon cruises to national meetKatie Conlon continues to raise the bar on her cross country career. Already a two-time All-American, the Jamestown College standout has designs on making it a perfect 3-for-3 on Saturday. With 14th and 10th-place finishes in her first two appearances in the NAIA national meet, the question is how high can she fly?
Katie Conlon continues to raise the bar on her cross country career.
Already a two-time All-American, the Jamestown College standout has designs on making it a perfect 3-for-3 on Saturday.
With 14th and 10th-place finishes in her first two appearances in the NAIA national meet, the question is how high can she fly?
“I try not to think about what place I’ll end up or what my time is going to be. I do want to get All-American honors, that is important to me. If I can break into the top 10 or top five or maybe the top three that is in the back of my mind,” she said. “But ultimately if I run well I’ll be happy and accept whatever happens.”
If she runs well by her standards, anything seems possible come Saturday afternoon at the Fort Vancouver Historical Site in Vancouver, Wash.
In her seven outings this season, the junior from Jamestown has four wins, two seconds and has beaten 99 percent of the runners she has competed against.
“Katie has had an incredible season,” said her coach and uncle Jim Clark, who’s been in charge of the women’s cross country and track and field programs at JC for more than three decades. “Katie has run brilliantly at both of the NAIA meets she has competed in and she has seen most of the top runners already this season, so she should feel confident that she can run with most anyone in the race.”
Earning All-American status requires a finish in the top 30 in a race that features over 300 runners. Conlon has excelled in big meets as a Jimmie, and this one certainly qualifies.
“I kind of like big meets. It’s a lot of fun to race against people you don’t normally see,” she said. “When you don’t really know any of them it kind of frees you up to go out and race your hardest and see how it all shakes out.”
Conlon’s success is not by accident, of course. Anybody that spends any time driving the streets of Jamestown has probably seen her running briskly down the street. If not her, then probably her dad Frank, a loyal runner and former longtime track coach at Jamestown High School.
She runs virtually every day, usually about eight miles, which is what it takes to become one of the best runners in the country.
In the last two weeks she’s had teammate Aleona Reyes right along side.
Reyes, a freshman from Belen, New Mexico, has made an immediate impact in her first year, beating 80 percent of the runners she’s faced. She earned a trip to nationals by placing ninth in the DAC meet earlier this month.
“It’s definitely been nice for both of us. I have her pushing me, and she can gauge herself off me,” Conlon said. “We both feel pretty confident in how we’ve prepared.”
Clark said her season is already a big success.
“Aleona will just have to run with aggression and hang on as tough as she can,” Clark said. “She is a fighter who does not back down. She will give it her best shot and whatever happens, she will wrap up an exceptional freshman season.”
Both have dealt with health issues in the past month, Conlon being sick and Reyes a lower-leg problem, but both are fit and good to go.
“I’m feeling much better,” Conlon said. “I think we’re both just excited to get there and compete against the best and hopefully run as good as we can.”
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org