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The City Journals

Highland alum finishes six-year cross country career at University of UtahU

May 08, 2017 10:50AM ● By Bryan Scott

Kate Stringfellow runs during a high school cross country meet for Highland High School. (Kate Stringfellow/ Courtesy Photo)

By Koster Kennard | [email protected]

Kate Stringfellow spent four seasons running cross country and track for the University of Utah. In December, she completed her final season as a Ute.

Stringfellow said she loved her time running for Utah but running wasn’t always something she loved; when Stringfellow was a freshman at Highland High School she wanted to play volleyball.

“I actually started out in high school playing volleyball and I didn’t want to run at all,” said Stringfellow, who graduated in December after finishing four years of running on Utah’s cross country and track teams. “My older sister and older brother ran in high school and I kind of wanted to do something different so I played volleyball, and I was really terrible at it so, I ended up running track my freshman year after volleyball because the volleyball coach was also the track coach and he convinced to do it to stay in shape.”

After a successful track season that surprised her and everyone else, Stringfellow decided she would quit volleyball and focus on track and cross country.

Stringfellow attributes much of her success as a distance runner to her high school coach, Sarah Ingebretson Earl.

“She did a really good job of teaching me how to race well so that I could perform at the state meet and at the meets where college coaches were,” Stringfellow said. “She really helped me. I improved every single year by a ton when I was running at Highland and her training was just spot on for what I needed to improve.”

By the time Stringfellow was a senior, she finished fourth in the state cross country meet and was being recruited by several college coaches, including those at Weber State, BYU and the University of Utah.

She chose Utah, because it was close to home.

The University of Utah offered Stringfellow an academic and an athletic scholarship.

After two and a half years running at the University of Utah, Stringfellow served an LDS mission in Rancho Cucamongo, California. for a year and a half before she returned to Salt Lake to spend the rest of her college eligibility.

“I think the team got a lot more competitive,” Stringfellow said. “I kind of had to come back and prove my spot on the team. Before I left I think a lot of people kind of questioned why I was going right in the height of my college running career. So, I came back and trained hard and really had to prove my place on the team but I actually ended up running faster after (my mission).”

For the next year and a half Stringfellow stepped into a new role as the oldest on the team.

“(Going on a mission) gave me a good perspective and a greater appreciation for running because I had taken a year and a half away and kind of focused on a completely different part of my life,” Stringfellow said. “It was good to come back and kind of regain my love for running after having a long break from it.”

Being at the University over the span of six years, Stringfellow saw the cross country and track programs blossom.

“In those six years the team at the U has progressed so much,” Stringfellow said. “We went from placing tenth at regionals to being a national qualifying team in the last two years and beating out BYU and beating out Weber who are known nationally for being really good.”

Though Stringfellow enjoyed her time running for the University of Utah she said there were a couple challenges for her.

“I think you make a lot of sacrifices as a college athlete,” Stringfellow said. “You spend a lot of your time that you would spend socializing, working or doing a lot of outside things traveling almost every weekend in the season. You end up training all summer long and all year and I think mentally there are always struggles. I went through seasons that were rougher than others and had setbacks and injuries, but overall it was a totally worthwhile experience.”

Kyle Kepler, head cross country coach at the University of Utah, said Stringfellow took and absorbed instruction well.

“(I) definitely never had to worry that what I was saying was getting through or that I even had to say it twice,” said Kepler. “(She was) very coachable. (She) really tried to be efficient with her time and with my time and as a coach those are two things that certainly make your life a lot easier and make a kid a lot more successful.”

“With a lot of hard work and a lot of focus anyone can do anything,” said Stringfellow. “You know I wasn’t like a superstar when I started out running, but I ended up having a really great experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything just from working hard in high school and sticking to something that I didn’t originally like doing.”