Sept. 23, 1999
By Alan Wasielewski
Balance is important in every athletic competition. Football, basketball, soccer and track are all sports that demand their participants have well-conditioned bodies and a perfect sense of balance.
Senior All-American Alison Klemmer, a distance runner at Notre Dame, has that perfect sense. Balancing the demands of school, athletics and every day life is something she is uniquely adept at.
Klemmer is a member of both the cross country and indoor/outdoor track teams at Notre Dame. She was the 1999 BIG EAST outdoor champion in the 10,000 meters and has earned All-America honors twice in that same event. She also is consistently among the top five runners for the Irish cross country team during the fall, and off the field, she has been honored for her academic acheivements as a 1999 GTE Academic All-American and a Knute Rockne Student-Athlete Award-winner.
“The more things you have to do, the more focused you are,” Klemmer explains. “You have to tell yourself, I will study these two hours, work out for these two hours and run another two hours. I don’t miss not having free time because I never had any to begin with.”
Klemmer is now in the midst of the cross country season. She ran her first race September 17th in the National Catholic Invitational on the Notre Dame campus. Finishing second behind teammate JoAnna Deeter, Klemmer took the first step toward a better 1999 season.
“Last year I didn’t do well in cross country,” Klemmer said. “I had a bunch of different nagging injuries, one after another and I never really got rolling.”
Despite the injuries in 1998, she was healthy enough to finish 22nd in the District IV championship meet and was the team’s third finisher at the 1998 BIG EAST cross country championship.
The 1999 track season was when Klemmer shook off the injuries and showed that she is one of the best distance runners in the nation. However, the transition from cross country to track posed a big challenge.
“In track, you have your split times on each lap,” Klemmer said. “You can keep a good rhythm by keeping an eye on the runners you are passing. In cross country there is nothing — your basically alone on the course. Track is all about pacing and what time you run. In cross country, the time doesn’t matter. It’s more about who you beat to the finish line.”
Klemmer feels at home on both the track and the cross country course. There might be a little part of her, though, that relishes the atmosphere on the track.
“Sometimes, I will be in last place in the beginning of the 10,000,” she said. “But that doesn’t matter, because on the track there is only 20 people in the race and it’s easy to pass. In cross country, there can be almost 200 runners. If you don’t get out in front, you will be stuck in the back.”
While happy for the achievements she has garnered in her career at Notre Dame so far, Klemmer is clearly looking to big and better things in 1999.
“I would like to be an All-American in cross country as well,” Klemmer said. “That is top 25 American runners at the national meet. It will be tough, but I am looking forward to it as my ultimate goal for the season.”
The Irish are also looking for a trip to the NCAA Championships that barely eluded them last year.
“We definitely plan to qualify for nationals this year,” Klemmer said. “I think we have a really good chance. I am running better than I was last year, our entire varsity team is back from last year and we have a new freshman, Jennifer Handley, who might be our number three or four this year.”
As one of the top athletes at Notre Dame, Klemmer knows what is needed to achieve her goals. An All-America season in cross country would not be hard to mix into the balance of her life. It would only add to an already impressive career.