By Nicole DeStefano
Freshman Kathleen Jaeger settled into a starting stance in lane three for her final 800-meter race of the season on Saturday, March 12. She was wearing her go-to pair of lucky blue-striped socks. At the shot of the starting gun, she edged out quickly, with the hopes of achieving an All-American Title at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships in Grinnell, Iowa.
Jaeger, the only freshman in the country who qualified for the 800-meter final, did not need luck. She relied on strategy, training and instinct to help her secure a seventh-place finish. Jaeger kept up with most of the pack throughout the race, making her final move with about 400 meters left and clocking in at 2:15.34.
“The main goal was to not overthink the race and go in with confidence,” Jaeger said. “There are a lot of talented girls that made nationals, so I knew I would face good competition and I just wanted to run my hardest.”
Despite being the only athlete on both the men’s and women’s side from the College to qualify for nationals, Jaeger did not feel alone. Her teammates wanted to make sure she felt their presence, even if they were over 1,000 miles away.
“All my teammates are incredibly supportive,” Jaeger said. “I received a lot of texts and FaceTimes from my teammates wishing me good luck and encouraging me to do my best. Their support is awesome and I can’t thank them enough for how much they help me. Many of them watched online and texted me immediately after. There is no better feeling than knowing your team is supporting you from halfway across the country.”
To qualify for the finals, Jaeger ran a 2:13.91 on Friday, March 11, during the preliminary race — making her the first Lion to represent the College in the national 800-meter finals since 2011.
Jaeger’s personal best time of 2:13.43 for the season and her performance at nationals tied together an outstanding rookie season with the Lions. With the indoor track season behind her, Jaeger now is looking forward to a successful lacrosse season at the College.
“Kathleen performed tremendously out at nationals,” head coach Justin Lindsey said. “She has a very bright future. I look forward to see what she can do. We look to support her as she transitions into lacrosse for the spring season.”