Freshman Mitchem Sets Pace for Cowgirls Cross-Country
By Marta Gomez, Wyoming women’s basketball senior
LARAMIE, Wyo. - Transitioning from high school to college can be hard for most athletes. But for one of the cross country Cowgirls, it has been easier and more successful than expected.
Katelyn Mitchem was named the Mountain West Conference’s Women’s Cross Country Athlete of the Week in her second week as a Cowgirl. This award is given to the student-athlete who gets the best results, individually and for the team, during that week’s competition.
The Broomfield, Colo., native recorded Wyoming’s best finish at the Woody Greeno/Jay Dirksen Invitational hosted by the University of Nebraska. She finished 19th out of 142 runners with a time of 22:06.7 and posted her fastest kilometer pace of the season at 3:41.2. Mitchem scored 16 points for the Cowgirls, which lead them to a fifth-place finish out of 12 teams with a total of 138 points.
Mitchem had her debut as a Cowgirl in the Wyoming Invitational, hosted by the University of Wyoming in Cheyenne on Aug. 31. The freshman finished the five-kilometer course in 18:28 in the sixth position overall, leading the Cowgirls to a fourth-place finish.
Mitchem’s impressive debut as a college athlete was not something unexpected for the coaching staff. During high school she was the 2017 Colorado 5A Region 4 individual champion as a senior, competed at the 2016 Nike Cross Country Nationals, and placed 10th in the 3,200 meters and 11th in the 1,600 meters at the 2016 Colorado 5A State Championships.
“She is a tough kid. She gives 110 percent in everything she does,” said women’s cross country associate head coach Amanda Clower. “She wasn’t feeling very good the week before the meet and she still went out 110 percent.”
Cross country might seem like an individual sport because the runners compete by themselves. For Mitchem and the Cowgirls, though, team encouragement is really important, and most of the time, it is the key to success in this sport.
“The team has been really supportive here,” said Katelyn Mitchem. “There is always someone there to help you, push you, and to talk to you if you have any bad days.”
Mitchem said the Cowgirls will look to keep up the intensity and the good results in future competitions this year.