Klemmer aims for nationals
By KATHLEEN O'BRIEN
Assistant Sports Editor
Senior Alison Klemmer has had endurance throughout her cross country career; the leg speed and finishing kick were the areas where she needed work.
She's finally put it all together, making her a top-notch runner with a shot at being a cross country All-American and at qualifying for the Olympic trials in 2000.
"For a long time, she was a very strong runner with a lot of endurance, but there were a lot of gaps," said head women's cross country coach Tim Connelly. "What she's done is go out and work on filling in those gaps. She's done a whole lot of work to make herself a competitive runner."
Klemmer was injured and did not compete her entire freshman year, and is thus only a junior in terms of eligibility. Last year she was also bothered by nagging injuries during the cross country season.
"Her freshman year taught her to be more patient," said Connelly. "She's learned to read her body. She doesn't push when it's time to back down."
Because of those injuries, Klemmer has shined the most in outdoor track, with her best event being the 10,000-meter run. She was an All-American in outdoor track in 1998 and 1999.
Klemmer finished third for the Irish at the Big East Invitational in cross country last season, but hopes to really excel this season. She hopes to help the team finish among the top 10 at the NCAA Championships and contend for the Big East title.
"I think it's a matter of hard work and mental attitude," said Klemmer. "I hope to be All-American at the national meet. That's my big goal."
More long-term goals Klemmer has set for herself are becoming a three-time All-American in outdoor track and qualifying for the U.S. Olympic trials next summer.
"She's very precise in the way she approaches her running," said Connelly. "She's a science major, a biology major, and that scientific approach really carries over into her running.
"If you look at her running logs, they're very well-documented," he added. "She has a certain routine. She develops a race plan and really tries to stick to it. It's what's worked for her."
Klemmer is an excellent student with a grade point average close to 3.9. After graduation, she plans to go on to get her master's in ecology and hopefully will use her final year of running eligibility.
After she finishes her final year of eligibility, Klemmer would like to lengthen her race distance to half-marathons and marathons, hopefully with some sort of sponsorship.
She started running competitively early in her life. After being the second girl to finish the mile in middle school, Klemmer decided to go out for the track team. The high school track coach saw her run, and asked her to go out for the track and cross country teams in high school.
Since her sophomore year, Klemmer has known she wanted to run competitively in college.
"My high school coach always told me I was going to be a great 10,000-meter runner," said Klemmer.
A native of Troy, Mich., Klemmer decided to come to Notre Dame over Wake Forest. A big factor in that decision was Connelly, who she said is a great coach.
"I just really love running, even if I'm by myself," Klemmer said. "You finish up a really hard workout, and there's nothing like the feeling — you're like, wow, I did it."
All Sports Stories for Thursday, October 7, 1999