There was a time when Kat Pagano didn’t like running. Almost hated it, in fact.

Now she can’t imagine her life without it.

“It’s changed my life, for sure,” said Pagano, a Bonny Eagle High graduate who is a senior at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Ky. “I really learned what dedication and hard work can do to you. And confidence, too.

“When I was in high school, the big thing was that I didn’t have confidence in what I was doing as a runner. Now, as a college runner, I’ve learned that if you don’t have confidence in the training that you’ve done and you don’t realize how hard you’ve had to work at it, success can be hard to achieve.”

The 23-year-old Pagano recently ran a personal-best 5,000 meters at the Stanford Invitational. Her time of 16 minutes, 56.26 seconds was the third-fastest time in school history.

Her senior year has been exceptional: In the fall, she was named Ohio Valley Conference cross country runner of the year; in the winter, she was named the conference indoor track co-athlete of the year.

Not bad for someone who had no idea what path her career would take when she began running at Bonny Eagle.

She was not a competitive person by nature, preferring outdoor activities like horseback riding and music to sports. She began running for Coach Greg Wilkinson only because, she said, “I had a little bit of a knack for it.”

It wasn’t until she started running with Christine Reaser of Dayton, a highly competitive runner and Eastern Kentucky alumna, that Pagano began to realize her potential.

Reaser pushed her on 15-mile training runs that tested Pagano physically and mentally.

When the two talked about college, Pagano had no idea where she wanted to go, so Reaser pitched her old school. She also contacted Rick Erdmann, the longtime coach of the Colonels.

“Christine told me about (Pagano) and we brought her down for a visit,” said Erdmann. “She liked us, we liked her. She really is an amazing young woman.”

Pagano can’t say enough about the influence Reaser and Erdmann have had on her. “I wasn’t a hard-working individual until I met Christine and Coach Erdmann,” Pagano said. “They made me realize that if I was going to be a runner, I was going to do it to the best of my ability.”

In her first collegiate competition, she was amazed at how fast the other runners were.

“I thought they were literally insane,” she said.

Pagano was sure she would never come close to the times they were posting and thought, “If I ever break 19 minutes in the 5,000, I was going to quit running and return home because, well, that was insane.”

Well, over the next four years, she has cut nearly three minutes off her 5,000 time. Not only that, but she holds the school record in the 10,000 (36:07.10), set in the Penn Relays last year, the only time she has run that event. (She was scheduled to run the 5,000 but because of a mix-up missed the start of that race. Erdmann convinced the race director to let her run the 10,000 instead.)

“She is a team leader,” said Erdmann. “Not so much verbally, but by example. She is very dedicated to being the best that she can be as an athlete. And she is just such a high-quality individual.

“Her biggest attribute is her attitude. We’ve all had athletes and known athletes who were very talented but their attitude held them back. Not Kat.

“She’s not the most talented runner we’ve had, but she works so hard. And she’s become a pretty good runner. It’s going to be hard to see her leave.”

Pagano isn’t sure what her future will hold. She loves archaeology and spent a summer working on archaeological sites in the Red River Gorge in Kentucky, but could see herself training horseback riders back in Maine.

Whatever path she takes, she knows running will be involved.

“It’s become part of my life now,” she said.

MEN’S LACROSSE

Freshman midfielder Christopher Kipp of Scarborough has three goals and five assists for Wentworth Institute of Technology. He has also collected six ground balls.

Sophomore midfielder Greg Ordway of Freeport also has one goal for the Leopards. He has collected three ground balls and caused three turnovers.

OUTDOOR TRACK

Princeton junior Dave Slovenski of Brunswick set a personal best with a pole vault of 17 feet, 41/2 inches in the Tigers’ opening meet at the University of South Florida. His previous best was 17-31/2, the school’s indoor record.

Colby senior Danielle Sheppard of Kittery (Traip Academy) was named New England Small College Athletic Conference performer of the week after setting a school record in the high jump at the Point Loma Invitational last weekend in San Diego. Sheppard won the high jump by clearing 5-7 to help the Mules win the 12-team event.

Freshman Ali O’Reilly of Falmouth (North Yarmouth Academy) finished third in the javelin for Gettysburg College in its season-opening meet featuring Franklin & Marshall College and Dickinson. O’Reilly’s javelin throw went 79-0.

Mikaela Gerry, a sophomore middle-distance runner from Springvale (Sanford) is also on the Bullets’ roster.

TENNIS

Wheaton junior Neall Oliver of Portland (Deering) was named New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference singles player of the week after helping the Lyons to a 7-2 victory over Salem State. Oliver won his No.1 singles match, 6-2, 6-2.

SOFTBALL

Southern New Hampshire University senior Kelsey Griffin of Scarborough pitched a two-hitter and struck out 13 as the Penmen defeated Bentley, 4-1.

Griffin is 2-3 with a 3.63 ERA, along with 37 strikeouts and eight walks in 362/3 innings.

SWIMMING

Gettysburg junior Matt Libby of Freeport (Cheverus) swam in three events in the NCAA Division III nationals, finishing 40th in the 50-yard freestyle (21.50 seconds), 21st in the 200 freestyle (1:41.20) and 24th in the 100 freestyle (45.94).

Wellesley College sophomore Kathryn Goffin of Falmouth received all-academic NEWMAC honors. Goffin, a member of the swimming and diving team, is a psychology major.

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL

Stonehill senior guard Emily Rousseau of Biddeford was an honorable-mention selection to the State Farm Coaches’ All-American team, chosen by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. Rousseau led the Skyhawks in scoring with 16.8 points per game and also averaged 3.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals.

WOMEN’S LACROSSE

Rivier College sophomore midfielder Lauren Brett of Otisfield (Oxford Hills) recently was named Great Northeast Athletic Conference player of the week, after totaling 10 goals and two assists in two games. She also won 17 of 22 faceoffs.

Southern New Hampshire freshman attack Ellie Morin of Scarborough was named Northeast-10 rookie of the week for the second consecutive week.

She had four goals and an assist in a 19-9 victory over Assumption.

Morin is the third-leading scorer for the Penmen with 20 goals and six assists.

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]