EDITORS NOTE: I'd to introduce you to Katie Lamanna who will be contributing some stories and inspiration here at Youthrunner.com. Katie is a great example of someone who didn't have the best success in the beginning. She struggled through high school with her running but she put in the hard work, got better and her college cross country team named her Rookie of the Year. Her team is coached by Dr. Jack Daniels. Meet Katie..........

Hello! My name is Katie Lamanna and I am a second year student at Wells College. I am an English major with a focus in creative writing, aspiring to one day be a journalist. In addition to being a student, a dancer, and a member of the all-female a capella group on campus- the Whirligigs, I am also a member of the Wells Express women’s cross country team.

I’ve had a lot of major personal feats in my running career so far. I went from being the chubby kid running 31 minutes for a 5k, to the mediocre high school senior clocking in at 24 minutes, to Wells College Women’s Cross Country’s Rookie of the Year.

I started running in ninth grade after a guilt trip from one of my best friends. She said that all they needed was one more girl to make a full team- she then recruited three more girls, leaving me last on the team and out of scoring position. I enjoyed my first year running, but I really wasn’t any good at it. I pretty much struggled all through high school running, finishing my senior year with a 24 minute 5k that I was completely ecstatic about. After high school, I went on to attend and run at Wells College.

My first season of cross country at Wells was completely different than anything I had experienced in high school. At Wells, I began to really develop as a runner and athlete. I was able to take significant time off of my 5k- having a season best of 22:28. I was even in scoring position on my team! The feeling of having complete support from my coaches and teammates was something that I had never really felt before. I consistently improved my times and running efficiency throughout the season. The real test of my efforts came at the very end of the season at the North Eastern Athletic Conference meet.

Going into the NEAC meet, I had one goal: to make the all-conference team. I knew that if I finished in the top 21 and made all-conference, I would get the chance to run at NCAA DIII Regionals. This was the roughest race of my life- filled with sharp turns, steep gravel hills, and leaf covered trails. A little before the half way mark, I severely sprained my ankle. Ignoring the race officials trying to get me to stop racing, I continued, sobbing the entire way. Upon finishing, I had no idea how I had done. It wasn’t till the awards ceremony that I found out that I had finished eighteenth, making third team all-conference.

I then continued training on a sprained ankle for NCAA Regionals. I finished my season with a great run. Pushing through the pain of a sprained ankle to earn all-conference honors and to race at NCAA Regionals was completely worth it. But, after NCAA, I had to sit in an ankle brace for about three months. I could run a little, but nothing really over three miles a day.

The very same day that I was able to take my ankle brace off, I began training for a half marathon. I finished the half marathon in 1:51, coming in 311st.

At the end of the school year, I was named Rookie of the Year for Wells College Women’s Cross Country. I sobbed like a baby. I was finally being recognized for all of the hard work that I put in to my running.

My first year as a member of the Wells Express team was a complete success. As I begin this year’s season with a new coach, I can only hope that I can continue to improve as much as I did last year. I hope to break into the 21 minute mark for my 5k time. But, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my years of running, it’s that you can achieve anything with hard work, effort, and a lot of heart.