Q&A with…Kaitlyn Saathoff
Kaitlyn Saathoff had no intention three years ago of running on the Tonganoxie High cross country team. Then, she came across an ideal pair of blue jeans.
"My mom told me she would only buy them for me if I went out for cross country," Saathoff said. "So I told her I would and she got me the jeans. I actually hated cross country the first two weeks. I hadn't ran at all during the summer, so I was dying the first two weeks."
The senior has come a long way.
Saathoff joined the team as a freshman. She's certainly grown to be enthusiastic about the sport.
For instance, it only took Saathoff one year before she jumped into a pond in a state of jubilation after the Kaw Valley League meet her sophomore year. A year later, she gave her mother a scare by displaying a tattoo of a dragon on her back after a meet. Of course, the tattoo was only temporary.
This year, Saathoff has medaled in two meets -- the Tonganoxie home quad and the McLouth Invitational. She said the team has higher expectations this year after an eighth-place finish at the state meet a year ago.
So far, so good. The girls have already won three meets: The Tonganoxie home quad, the McLouth Invitational and the Maur Hill Invitational.
So you have to explain the jumping in the pond story. Care to elaborate?
At the beginning of the league meet my sophomore year at Wyandotte County Park, we made a pact: If we got first, we would jump in the pond. We ended up getting second. But just because we wanted to, we still jumped in the pond. We all had mud all over ourselves. Our uniforms were all muddy and wet and we were all soaked. Before that, I don't think I had ever jumped in a pond.
Is there any superstition involved in cross country?
I have spikes that I bought my freshman year. The spikes underneath have worn a little bit, but for the most part, I've taken pretty good care of them. I put them in my closet upside down so the spikes don't get rubbed on. I also wear shin sleeves and I actually wear a pair of red tie-dye knee highs at every meet. It's kind of a tradition for me.
I've heard people say they can't run for long distances without their iPod. How tough is it to run in meets without music?
Over the summer, I run with my MP3 player all the time. At practice, we're not allowed to, just to get us used to that. When it comes to race time, it can be a little bit tougher because you're thinking, 'Oh my goodness, I still have a mile-and-a-half to go.' I usually try to get a song stuck in my head, like pump-up music before the race.
Any song that pumps you up the most?
We kind of have a variety. We listen to Sean Paul, the Step Up soundtrack, Relient K. We also like "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."
In times when you still have that mile-and-a-half to go, how do you make yourself get through it?
I tell myself, 'This is my senior year. Just keep going. I'm not going to get to do this again.' I have to give it my all. I figure after the race, I can rest. It's only what -- 17 minutes of my life right there. Afterwards, I can rest, drink some water and sit down.
As a cross country runner who's used to running on terrain, what do you think of treadmills?
I personally think it's harder because whenever I go out and run on my own, it's easier to just keep going. On treadmills, you can just step off and say, 'Well, I'm done for the day. I want a drink.' You can take a break at any time.
You've medaled at two meets this season. What do you do with all the medals you've accumulated?
I've got all of my medals from past years in a small bag. They usually give out the medals in a little baggy. We can put them on our leather jackets, but I just don't like the clinging, so I don't put them on there.
What is the expectation of the girls team this season?
We're hoping to go to state again. Last year, we placed eighth. Personally, I'd at least get up to sixth. Even higher would be nice. But I know there are still teams that are really good.
At various cross country meets, the parents seem to sprint almost faster than the athletes in order to watch their sons and daughters at various points of the course. How true is this around Tonganoxie?
My parents (Missy and Mike Saathoff) split up at the course. They'll call each other to see where I'm at. My mom will stand right at the end and tell me what place I'm at. At McLouth, I was 21st and I heard her say, 'Katie, you're in 21st. Come on. Just one girl.' And I ended up passing her. It helps me. I had that extra adrenaline to pass the girl.