By Lilyen McCarthy
Track race days entail a lot of nerves. Hours of practice go into a few minutes or even seconds depending on the event. There are no do-overs, no makeups for a missed shot or bad pass. It all comes down to that moment, waiting for the gun to go off.
Senior management major Katherine Marsh has made herself a force to be reckoned with in the collegiate running community. The mid-distance runner from East Meadow, New York continues to break Adelphi program records and accumulate conference and NCAA accolades. Once Marsh’s career comes to an end, her name will be remembered, at the very least in the record books, for years to come. If you asked her four years ago, however, running collegiate track was not in her plans.
“I didn’t want to run in college, and I wasn’t looking to get recruited. Isabel [Marsh’s sister] and I didn’t know if we wanted to run, but we wanted to stay local,” said Marsh. The sisters’ high school coach put them in touch with Adelphi’s track and field head coach, Katie Rees, and the latter made the girls’ doubts disappear.
Rees is in her ninth year of head coaching for Adelphi’s track and cross-country program. She describes Katherine as a hard-working athlete. “You can coach form and events, but you can’t coach the ability to push yourself to get better. Katherine pushes herself to improve every practice, and that’s her X-factor. She doesn’t give up.”
Marsh currently holds the record for the outdoor 800-meter event, outdoor 4 x 800, indoor 800-meter, indoor mile, indoor 1,500-meter and the indoor distance medley relay. The runner broke the 800-meter indoor program record a few weeks ago. Compared to past races, she said a big difference was early focus and “kicking” (moving from a distance-pace closer to a sprint) earlier than she usually would.
Her most recent achievement was placing tenth overall in her first ever NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championship, just days after being named NE10 Indoor Female Track Athlete of the Year.
Senior teammate Lauren Toland has known Marsh since their freshman year in 2019. She refers to her as a leader by example and not just a phenomenal athlete who loves to take naps, but a great teammate as well.
“While Katherine and her sister Isabel are definitely in a league of their own, you wouldn’t know it by the way they carry themselves,” said Toland. “Katherine is by far one of the most humble people I’ve ever met.”
During her transition from middle school track to East Meadow High School’s team, Marsh remembered being very hesitant to join. The prospect of 10-mile runs and competing at 3.1 miles instead of two was intimidating, and confidence has been a weakness since the start of her career.
“Once I got into it, I started falling in love with it again,” said Marsh.
Running with her sister has helped keep her motivated since the beginning of their running career in seventh grade. Marsh described having her sister by her side like “having a built-in training partner always pushing each other to the best of our abilities.”
Coach Rees also commented on Marsh’s confidence and coaching her through the mental struggle. “Her confidence was low when she first got here, not trusting her own athleticism like she should have. Throughout the years, she has gotten better and has become a better athlete because of it.”
Having completed most of her career and learned to trust herself, Marsh would give her younger self and any other tentative athletes a piece of advice. “Trust your abilities. I didn’t trust myself to run in college, thinking I wasn’t strong or fast enough,” Marsh said. “As long as you have that determination, discipline and willpower, it will all work out.”
Stepping onto the line, all of the nerves from the day’s build up goes away. Teammates are cheering. Coach is giving a few last pieces of advice. The gun goes off. May the best runner win.