|Follow PSU Cross Country:||Follow @PennStateTFXC|
By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite being a Penn State newcomer, freshman Kathryn Munks of Chester, NY has proven herself to be a crucial asset in the Nittany Lions line up this season.
Munks attended Monroe-Woodbury high school where she was a lead runner for her team. She was a 4xmile school and section record holder, and was team cross country and track captain.
"The switch from high school competition to college competition has been an interesting transition. For my last two years in high school, I was working out on my own and I was the leader that the team looked up to," said Munks. "In college, I have a whole team of girls that push me not only in workouts but also in races and they set a high standard for the team."
The switch from high school to college can be a tough transition, especially when it comes to sports. Head coach Gondak explained the hardest adjustment for the athletes.
"The biggest adjustment for freshmen when they get to college is that they are used to being the very best in high school," said Gondak. "They are always used to being at the front of the pack and winning races, or if not winning, being in contention for it. Now, for some it's hard to dig down and give it your all when you're in 60th place and you're used to being in first or second from your high school races, and that becomes somewhat of an adjustment."
Munks has noted the competition shift and is aware of the changes she needs to make when competing collegiately.
"The competition from other college teams are much more competitive than in high school. In high school, being top ten or fifteen was pretty good but in college that changes because of how talented the field is," said Munks.
"The toughest part has been trying to get myself into the mindset of a collegiate runner, sometimes my mind reverts back to the competitors and the training of high school," she added. "I was considered a student of the game in high school, and I'm trying to repeat that in college. This includes being aware of other big ten schools and just knowing who the competitors are and how to efficiently race against them."
Munks has been a top finisher on the team this year, earning points for the team in big meets. In the Nittany Lions last meet, the Griak Invitational, which is one of the largest meets in the country, she placed 62th overall and fifth on the team. This placement helped earn them a third place team finish.
"Munks was our fifth runner at the meet, the last point score for us, and was a pivotal reason as to why we were able to get third place as a team," said Gondak.
As the season continues, Munks is looking to improve and continue her season past just the regular season meets. She is also hoping to help her team improve upon their national ranking.
"It feels very weird that the season is halfway done," said Munks. "It feels like just yesterday that the season was starting. Looking ahead, my goals are to improve my time on our home course and to stay top five on our team. As a freshman, making the meets in the championship part of the season would be amazing and a huge confidence booster. I also want our team to climb higher in the rankings."
Munks has gotten to where she is now by the motivation and hard work that her team members contribute to practice every day.
"The girls on this team are incredible," said Munks. "They are kind and nurturing yet they are not afraid to push the freshman and tell us if we are doing something wrong."
"The leaders on this team have definitely inspired me to be the best runner that I can be and they give the team motivation. It is great getting to run with such a talented field of girls that always strive to be the best that they can be, and this pushes me to do the same."