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By Astrid Diaz, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Every weekday afternoon she enters the Penn State Multi-Sport Facility for practice. She is driven. She is quiet. She is sharp. She is ready.
Senior Katie Rodden is in the midst of her final season with the Penn State women's cross country team but with the NCAA Championships still about two months away, she is not ready to say good-bye to the Blue and White or running quite yet.
Rodden has been a runner her entire life.
"I started running in the fourth grade," Rodden said. "In the seventh grade, I was [still] running long distance and that's how it all started."
"In high school, I was one of the only ones on my team that was really into running," Rodden added. "The best part about Penn State is that everyone is into it too. We run seven days a week and at any time, I can find someone to run with."
It's evident in her performance: She is driven.
In 2013, she finished in the top 25 for both the indoor and outdoor Big Ten Championships, she was just shy of all-region status at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional, and she earned national experience as an alternate on the Nittany Lions' NCAA-qualifying group.
She is sharp.
The Ardmore, Pennslyvania, native is an exemplary student. She maintains a stellar 4.0 grade-point average, she has earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, and she was a finalist for the NCAA Elite 89 Award.
The Elite 89 award is the NCAA's way of student-athletes who have reached a pinnacle in his or her competitive sport as well as in the classroom. The award is given to the student-athlete with the highest grade-point average competing in any of the NCAA's 89 championships.
"I feel like I'm just like any other person," she said. "If you work hard, it will all fall into place."
Rodden juggles running 70-75 miles per week and six days per week of practice. She is finishing up a kinesiology major, she is a member of in the Athletic Director's Leadership Institute, and she has a research job for Penn State's Noll Laboratory.
"I do work pretty hard. I guess I don't have the most fun social life ever but I enjoy doing well academically and athletically," she said.
She is ready.
Come November, when the Penn State cross country regular season has come to an end, Rodden will be well on her way to yet another finish line - her collegiate career.
"Honestly, I try not to think about it being over," she said. "I love it here and I'm really going to miss it,"
She has aspirations of attending medical school after her time at Penn State has expired.
"I've applied to [medical] schools and I'm just waiting for hear back," Rodden said. "I want to something with sports medicine or orthopedics."
Through all of it, the academic honors, the medical school applications, the research projects, running will always be a part of her.
"This is something that I'm just naturally good at and I definitely I can't see myself just stopping," she said. "Maybe [after college] I'll get into marathons."