Burlington Central graduate Clint Kliem's first foray into college cross country running was a memorable one.
Kliem, now a sophomore on the Division I Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville men's cross country team, recalls a meet held at Eastern Illinois University.
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"There were huge storms coming," he said. "We only had 5 minutes to warm up before the start of the race. We basically got our spikes on, got to the line and they hit the horn and we went. When we crossed the line they said to go wait in the indoor tack. After that, all the races have been fine in terms of the mental aspect. No race can be any worse than that."
The races have only gotten better for Kliem, who recently was named to the all-Ohio Valley Conference second team after placing 10th in the 8K event at the conference meet. Kliem is the first SIUE cross country runner to earn an all-conference honor.
"Over the course of the season I would say my fitness and endurance have improved compared to when I was in high school," he said. "Going from high school to college, it's a longer race and the workouts increase. You are doing more mileage and the workouts are a lot more specific. I've improved a ton from high school."
Kliem said the adjustment from high school to college involves more than just running.
"A lot of coaches use freshman year as a whole transitional year," he said. "You want to still perform well in races and workouts, but generally it's a year to get adjusted to college life and living in the dorms and getting used to a new routine. You are getting used to doing a morning run and an afternoon shakeout run and lifting weights. You are doing a lot more little things and running is only one aspect of it. You might lift weights two or three times a week and you're doing different exercises to help prevent you from getting injured. There is a lot more time needed. In college you can work around your class schedule. After freshman year you realize that a lot goes into it and it takes a lot of work to be the best in races. You're not coming in first in the bigger invites anymore, you are coming in 50th or 60th.
"It makes you realize there are faster kids out there and that pushes you harder in practice and makes you realize you have to put a lot of work in."
Kliem takes plenty of pride in his all-conference honor.
"It's nice to have it," he said. "I've accomplished some set goals for cross country. After track, we had like two weeks off and started up again in the beginning of June. It was nice to cross it off the list for the year and celebrate the hard work you put into it. It's definitely something earned and it was nice to achieve it."
At the conference meet, Kliem finished the race in 25:19.68, which helped him improve his place from 19th as a freshman to 10th this year. It was the 17th-fastest 8K time in SIUE history. Kliem logged the time in less than ideal course conditions.
"I tend to do better in worse conditions," he told the school's athletic website. "I think it played as a mental factor on other people."
The race, held at a golf course, featured a 2K loop run 4 times.
"You did the same hill 4 times in a row," he told the school website. "I think mentally it affected other people and may have played to their disadvantage where I used it to my advantage."
Kliem will run in the NCAA Division I regional race at Iowa State next week.
"All of the big schools are going to be there and some are ranked in the Top 10 in the nation," he said. "It will be kind of fun to see where I am at compared to those other runners."
Kliem is studying advertising mass communications with a minor in studio art and is enjoying his time in Edwardsville.
"I love it down here," he said. "It's a great place to go to school."
Holthus sets kills record: Burlington Central alum Stephanie Holthus set the Northwestern University career kills mark this past weekend. Holthus, a senior outside hitter at the Big Ten Conference school, broke a program record that had stood for 25 years. Her third kill in the fourth set of the team's road match against Nebraska gave her career kill No. 1,667 and the record. She surpassed Janine Makar's old mark.
Holthus finished the match with a team-high 17 kills to go with 12 digs. It was her 13th double-double of the season. Holthus now has 1,673 career kills.
Northwestern ended up dropping a 21-25, 25-17, 21-25, 25-17, 15-13 match in Lincoln, Neb., to the nation's No. 11-ranked team.
The loss dropped the Wildcats to 13-10 overall and 5-6 in conference play. Northwestern hosts both Michigan State and Michigan on Friday and Sunday respectively.
Off at College wants your help. Send information and/or statistics to Fox Valley-area athletes playing collegiately to Mike Miazga at email@example.com.