A few weeks ago, on Saturday, Nov. 17, the national DIII cross country championship took place at Lake Breeze golf course in Winneconne, Wisconsin. Loras sent one individual qualifier to this important meet: junior Kassie Rosenbum. Rosenbum took 31st overall, in a field of 279, with a time of 21:50. This ranks as the third-fastest 6k time in school history. The top 40 finishers at the national meet are given All-American honors, meaning this race gained Rosenbum her first All-American honor. We talked with Kassie to get a better idea of what she experienced at the national race and the biggest takeaways she gained from this experience.
Question: In order to get to nationals, you had to procure a fourth place finish at the regional meet. Walk us through what it was like to finish this high in the region and whether or not you knew going into the race that you would be a national qualifier.
Rosenbum: Coming into regionals, I was not sure where I would be ranked because conference was not a PR course. I know I would be close from the first 6k race with my training. I was very nervous for this race because of the given circumstances—my knee injury as well as not knowing my ranking. However, when the race started the nerves went away and I was confident in my abilities to rank high. As placing fourth in the region, I knew I qualified and I finally was able to live in the moment that I was going to nationals.
Question: The nationals experience includes a banquet and speaker the night before the big race. What were your thoughts on this event where so many talented runners are brought together before the race? Did you take away anything valuable from the speaker?
Rosenbum: My first thoughts on the banquet was how I was surrounded by so many runners, I felt like I almost did not belong until I realized I was one. From the speaker, I took away that being a student athlete is such an accomplishment and we don’t even realize it. Also, our sports tend to define us and we should be proud of what gift we get to have.
Question: Prior to the race, what thoughts were going through your mind? Were you feeling any specific emotions or did you feel pretty calm leading up to the race?
Rosenbum: I felt surprisingly calm the week before my race because I knew I did everything in my power to prepare for this race. However, the day before and day of the race, I had so many thoughts crossing my mind: “What if I don’t get top 40? There are so many girls here from the country fighting for the same thing.” However, when I started the warm-up, I felt like it was any other race and my nerves went away.
Question: Were there any points in the race that were more difficult than others? Any memorable moments when you made a willful decision to move up or make moves in the race?
Rosenbum: The start of the race was difficult for me; there were about 80 girls in front of me and it made me nervous because I wanted to be up with the front pack, but knew I had to wait if I wanted to be successful. After the first mile, I was able to start making moves and I felt more relaxed. Overall, though, I would say the last 800 meters were the most difficult part of the race. I do have a drive to finish fast, but most of my energy is expended during my pacing. During this part, I did get passed which was upsetting, but I still gave the race everything I had in me.
Question: You transferred into Loras last year. What was the reason you transferred, was it difficult adjusting, and are you glad you decided to come here?
Rosenbum: Before I came to Loras I attended University of Iowa. I felt it was a very big school and I struggled adjusting and finding people I had things in common with. I decided to transfer to Loras because it was the other school I was looking at as a senior in high school. I also wanted to be on a team I could bond with and make friendships in. At first, when I transferred, it was hard adjusting again and meeting new people. But with the new cross country season, I have made many friendships and I am so glad I came to Loras.
Question: You’ve dealt with a lot of injury in your running career. How has that shaped you to be the runner you are today? Have you had to overcome any other forms of adversity as well?
Rosenbum: Injury has become a big part of my running career, without it, I probably would not be where I am at now. I have had two major injuries during my running career and your question makes me think that the reason I’m still running today is because I won’t give up. Injuries have showed me how much I want to run when I can’t and only help me get stronger so I can work on what is weak. Not only that, but injuries have helped take care of my body, telling me to take it easier and preventing myself from getting a long-term injury that would affect my running permanently. Not only have injuries been an adversity to overcome, but I have overcome a lot of things during my life which have given me the mentality that there can be a successful ending for everyone. I strive for happiness, and what comes with that is hard work to make a better life for myself. That also has combined with my running and working hard to be better. As I do that, I have started to see myself as a better person.