By Sophia Hayden, Emma Hirschauer, Olivia Gebhardt
Every evening before a meet, Katrina Schlenker is already thinking about her approaching race. Her routine is intricate: after she gets home from a slow three-mile pre-meet run, she goes home and does yoga. Before bed she stretches and rolls out her legs, always making sure to get an adequate amount of sleep the night before, and then wakes up about two hours before the meet to drink coffee, read her Bible, and have a nourishing breakfast. Routines are an important part of keeping anyone driven, and Schlenker is one of those dedicated athletes.
Schlenker is in her last track season at Batavia, having already completed the cross country season and placing tenth overall at state. The future holds untold possibilities for the Liberty University D1 commit, and she’s taking her winning record all the way until her final meet for the Bulldogs. This season alone, she is third in the state for the 800 meter, mile, and two-mile.
Schlenker made an impression on Batavia’s track team, setting multiple school records in her freshman year, including her 1600 time being 4:51.36 and 3200 time being 10:32.62. Shlenker proved herself season after season, completing an 800 her junior year with a record-breaking time of 2:12.49.
Chad Hillman is the distance track and field coach who is going into his 23 years as a part of the program. He’s seen Schlenker progress through each of her seasons at BHS, and in his eyes, talent like hers shapes a whole team for the seasons even after it’s gone.
“She is already so good on her own,” Hillman said. For him, it’s been a privilege to coach a runner like Schlenker, as well as a challenge. One of the better feelings a coach can have is being unable to give any more tips, after that it is simply a matter of watching the athlete shine.
Kathleen Hillman, RMS choir teacher, and middle school coach, coached Schlenker even before her husband at the high school did.
“I have always had a Hillman in my life,” Schlenker said. It’ll be a hard relationship to leave behind as her college career starts.
Schlenker doesn’t just make a mark on her coaches, but her teammates too. “She’s so social,” said longtime teammate and friend of Schlenker, Lili Bednarek. “Within track, she knows everybody; all the throwers, all the sprinters, just being by her you meet new people which helps bring everyone together.”
For Schlenker’s teammates, it’s easy to see her for more than just her stats. She’s always the loudest cheerer in the stands, whether it’s for a race or just for practice, and the first person to get everyone going for a tough run.
Her teammates are constantly pushed by her work ethic and seeing her accomplish each of her goals is inspiring. She bolsters their moods, helping with their mindsets in a sport in which everything comes down to mentality. Schlenker said, “Running is 99% mental.” She’s right in this regard, not only is it necessary for a runner to have a good mentality, running has the possibility to improve one’s overall well-being.
“I’m not running for me, I’m running for the whole group,” Schlenker said. It’s that mentality that makes her so successful and has allowed her to keep her success going throughout her entire high school career.
With Schlenker’s last season at BHS coming to a close, it’s time for the track and cross country teams to look forward to the next generation of athletes that will keep up the legacy of runners like Schlenker.
“I have just seen so much growth from the Freshman,” Schlenker said. “I’m really proud of everyone adapting in all the years I’ve been in high school.”
Things are certainly hopeful for the next class of runners with juniors like Bednarek and talented freshmen like Sasha Semansion looking to become the future of BHS track. Schlenker has seen the team through her four years of high school, and as she looks forward to the next steps in her career the rest of her team must do the same. In the end, Schlenker herself said it best, “I know the future is bright.”