First-year Kiekhaefer off to a running start
First-year middle-distance runner Erin Kiekhaefer has had a strong start on the women’s track and field team.
Originally from Palo Alto, Calif., Kiekhaefer only started running in high school and did not think she could run in college. “I had played soccer for a long time but realized that I didn’t want to play it at my high school because they were too competitive, so I started running my freshman-year cross country season and decided that I wanted to focus more on running,” Kiekhaefer said. “Once I found out that I was accepted to CMU, I contacted Coach [Dario] Donatelli and trained over the summer to be able to run.”
Kiekhaefer has enjoyed her time on the track and field team so far. “There is such a great group of freshman girls on the team,” she said. “Long runs just turn into conversations, and sometimes we just break into fits of giggles, which makes those hour-plus runs so much better.”
Teammate Lisa Rising, a junior, lauded Kiekhaefer’s “wonderful attitude” as part of the team. “Her contagious positivity brings out the best in her teammates and our workouts,” Rising said.
Even though the team is smaller than in past years, Kiekhaefer has high hopes for the group. “So far everyone has been performing really well, and we’ve put a lot of new times on the top-five performances list, which is really impressive,” she said.
Kiekhaefer said her proudest moment on the team occurred earlier in the indoor season, when she ran her first mile in 5:27, beating her high school performance by 20 seconds. “I was just so excited and impressed that I was able to run a time like that,” she said. “I hadn’t ever thought that I would be able to do that!”
Kiekhaefer’s strong performances this year did not come as a surprise to sophomore teammate Jackie Guevel. “Erin is at practice every day, working hard.... She makes sure to run the times Coach asks of her,” Guevel said. “Her dedication to the team has clearly paid off through her continued success in the mile.”
Overall, Kiekhaefer finds being on the track and field team very rewarding. “I think the most rewarding aspect about being on the team is just meeting so many different people that I never would have met without the team. People are all different years and majors, and some amazing people that I never would have crossed paths with have become some of my really good friends, which makes the team such an important part of my college life,” she said.
A Science and Humanities Scholar, Kiekhaefer is not entirely sure what she wants to major in. Currently, she is considering psychology and Hispanic studies. “I know that I want to keep running and traveling. I probably want to do something with a nonprofit in a Latin American
country,” she said of her future plans.