Clark proves hard work pays off

In any sport, there are three types of athletes: those that you’d like to have on your team, those that you’d love to have on your team, and those, if at all possible, that you must have on your team.

Sophomore Katie Clark would fall into the third category for the Butler women’s cross country team.

Clark has been making a name for herself in a big way since becoming a Bulldog last year. The U.K. native is one of the team’s top runners this season and has been racking up hardware since she came to Indianapolis.

But Clark didn’t start taking running seriously until she was 16.

“I started [run club] when I was 10, but it was more of a social activity,” Clark said. “I actually quit for a while once I turned 14.”

After a short time, Clark realized that she  missed running and said she was actually “addicted” to it.

“I was running on the track one day, and my future coach [Andy Railton] spotted me there and took me under his wing,” Clark said.

The companionship paid off for Clark.

In 2008, she was ranked 11th out of all U.K. female high school runners in the 5000 meter run.

Once Clark arrived at Butler in 2009, she noticed some key differences between cross country in the United Kingdom and at Butler.

“We train early in the morning here, whereas I was usually running around six in the evening back home,” Clark said. “We put in so many more miles here too.”

“At home, my longest run was usually about 45 minutes long, and here our shortest runs are an hour long.”

Clark handled these changes in stride and had an impressive freshman campaign.

Her top performances were a victory at the Purdue Great American Legends Meet, a runner-up showing at the Horizon League Championship and a fifth place finish at the Indiana Intercollegiate Meet.

“I’m not really sure how I was able to have so much success [my freshman year],” Clark said. “I guess I had to prove that I was worthy of the full scholarship that I received.

“For a while, every race was like I had never run that hard before,” Clark said.

With the success came accolades and awards for Clark.

She was named the Horizon League Cross Country Runner of the Week following her performance last year at the Notre Dame Invitational, earning that same honor this season after her showing in the same meet.

Clark also earned a spot on the All-Horizon League first team and collected the Horizon League Cross Country Female Athlete of the Year honor.

“The Horizon League Cross Country Female Athlete of the Year award was definitely my favorite one from that season,” Clark said.

This season is no different. Clark finished 46th at the Notre Dame Invitational and she made her way to a 12th place finish at the Indiana Intercollegiate Meet.

Still, she is never satisfied and looks to improve as the season, and her cross country career, go on.

“I like running personal bests, and I just want to put myself in a better position [to succeed] than I was in the year before,” Clark said.

That mindset will certainly help Clark with her running aspirations for the remainder of her collegiate career.

She has multiple goals that she’d like to accomplish over the next few years, with one of them flowing over to her spring sport, track and field.

“I’d like to get to the National Championships in cross country and track,” Clark said. “I’d like to be an All-American too.”

Clark also had prosperous indoor and outdoor freshman track seasons.

In the indoor Horizon League Championship meet, Clark was victorious in the 3000 meter run, earning All-Horizon League Honors in the process. In the outdoor version of the same meet, she grabbed third place finishes in both the 800 meter run and the 1500 meter run.

Clark said running has “taken over her life” in college, and it will not become a thing of the past for Clark when she leaves Butler.

“I’m going to keep running road races,” Clark said. “I want to try some half-marathons and marathons.

“I just can’t see myself not running in the future.”

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