Eisenmenger-Fuentes tabbed Relays’ honorary referee

FAMILY TIME — Kathryn ‘Katy’ Eisenmenger-Fuentes (second from right in back) relaxes with her family, from left, Danika, Luis, Leo, Joaquin and Alexa during a recent outing. Eisenmenger-Fuentes is the recipient of the 2017 Sentinel Relays track & field meet’s honorary referee award. (Photo courtesy of Kathryn Eisenmenger-Fuentes)

FAIRMONT — Diligent, compassionate, modest, athletic and intelligent.

Legendary Fairmont cross country and track & field mentor Bob Bonk has utilized the above words to appropriately describe the 2017 Sentinel Relays’ honorary referee.

Kathryn ‘Katy’ Eisenmenger-Fuentes, a physicians assistant who practices family medicine at Madelia Community Hospital & Clinic, aptly fit the true definition of the ultimate student-athlete during her five-year varsity sports career at Fairmont High School.

The 2013 Fairmont Hall of Fame inductee left an indelible mark in both the Cardinals’ cross country and track & field record books during the mid- to late-1990s.

In fact, nearly two decades after her high school graduation in 1998, Eisenmenger-Fuentes still holds three Fairmont track & field marks: the outdoor 800-meter run (2:16.99 in 1995), the indoor 800 (2:25.8 in 1997) and the 800-meter leg of the record-setting medley relay (4:16.12 in 1995). Ironically, Eisenmenger-Fuentes exchanged handoffs with Marissa Eggert, Amber Hartle and Jennifer Anderson to establish the current Sentinel Relays’ Class AA girls medley relay standard 22 years ago.

“It’s amazing to think about the fact that we formed a (relay) team that has stood the test of time. One never knows how long records will hold, but it’s still standing so far,” Eisenmenger-Fuentes said in reference to her intact Sentinel Relays mark. “We put together the right handoffs during the right weather conditions that day.”

Eisenmenger-Fuentes, however, was not limited to gold-medal finishes in the Sentinel Relays, as her prep athletic resume is chalked full of the storied program’s top-10 times and marks.

The five-time South Central Conference 800-meter champion and four-time SCC 1,600-meter gold medalist still holds Fairmont’s No. 2 all-time girls mile time of 5:06.67 set in 1997.

The Cardinals’ No. 5 all-time points scorer (1,361.2) captured third in the 1,600-meter run at the 1997 Class A state track & field meet, combined with Michelle Musser, Karri Lloyd and Jennifer Anderson to claim fourth place in the 4×400 relay at the 1995 Class A state competition, and placed fourth (1995), fifth (1994) and sixth (1996) at state in the 800-meter run.

“I enjoyed competing individually, but the relays were more fun because you had your teammates to share in any success you achieved,” said Eisenmenger-Fuentes. “There was always excitement around you when crossing the finish line whether you won it (the relay) or not.”

Eisenmenger-Fuentes also possessed the skill to transfer her running success onto the paved surface during the spring to the grassy hillsides of the cross country ranks in the fall.

Fairmont’s No. 4 all-time point scorer (1,256) in cross country placed 20th in 1996, 34th in 1997 and 37th in 1994 during the Class A state meets.

While logging countless miles in training for each cross country meet, Eisenmenger-Fuentes found solace in the numerous friendships she formed with her teammates during those treks.

“They called us the three blondes and Katy,” Eisenmenger-Fuentes chuckled while referencing long-distance counterparts Sarah Jensen, Jennifer Anderson and Monica Thilges. “It’s the friendships formed that I remember most. I have fond memories of spending time with them, going on long runs and having long talks along the way.”

The 1998 Minnesota State High School League’s Triple A state winner combined those friendships with success in sports and even more impressive success in the classroom — academic all-state accolades for four consecutive years — to earn both academic and athletic scholarships to Division I program Kansas.

“Running was an important part of my life, and I’m proud of my accomplishments, but that doesn’t define me,” said Eisenmenger-Fuentes, who competed in indoor and outdoor track, as well as cross country, for the Jayhawks for four years each. “It opened the door for me to go to college, and make the most out of my education.”

The 2002 collegiate All-American in the indoor mile earned her bachelor’s degree in genetics and biology from Kansas that year before meriting a masters of public health and a masters of medical science from Arcadia University.

Eisenmenger-Fuentes spent 2 1/2 years in the peace corp teaching biology to grades 8-10 in Mozambique before eventually returning to the Fairmont area.

“I practiced (medicine) in the Fairmont area since 2009, and then joined the Madelia (Community Hospital & Clinic) staff in 2011 and have been there ever since,” she said.

Katy Eisenmenger-Fuentes and her husband Luis have four children — Danika, 11; Joaquin, 7; Leo, 3; and Alexa, 1; and currently reside in Madelia.

“When I reflect on growing up, I learned a lot of life-long lessons from my dad (Dan) and Mr. Bonk,” said Eisenmenger-Fuentes. “Both of them knew competition was important, but they also realized there was more to life than sports.”

While sports didn’t fully define Eisenmenger-Fuentes as the well-rounded individual she is today, she will always be defined as the 2017 Sentinel Relays track & field meet’s honorary referee.

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