Kate Hassing was a standout track athlete for the maroon-and-gold of Blue Earth Area throughout her high school years. Her transition to the collegiate level in track for the maroon-and-gold of the University of Minnesota Duluth has been just as successful.
A sprinter in high school, Hassing's races have increased in distance just as her practices have intensified at the next level.
"I think the biggest thing to get used to for me right away was the longer running distances. I ran the 200-meter sprint and the 400 in high school and I think the longest I had run was 2 miles," said Hassing. "I really had to get used to those long-distance runs."
TAKING THE TURN — University of Minnesota Duluth runner Kate Hassing takes the turn during the 800-meter run at a recent indoor collegiate track meet. The former Blue Earth Area standout has made a smooth transition from competing at the high school level to the collegiate ranks. Photo courtesy of Kate Hassing
As a freshman, Hassing was converted from a 200- and 400-meter sprinter to an open 800 runner along with racing a leg of the 4x400 relay for the Bulldogs.
"My coaches and I realized that I couldn't compete at the college level in the 200. My times just weren't that fast. So I tried the 800 and I've stuck with that and the 4x400 relay," said Hassing.
Hassing has come a long way as a runner since joining the Bucs' track & field team in seventh grade to stay in shape for basketball.
"I mainly joined the track team in seventh grade because I played basketball and thought it would be a good way to stay in shape for that through the spring," said Hassing.
That decision helped lead Hassing to the Minnesota high school individual state meet twice, in addition to helping the Bucs to a True Team state championship during her junior season.
"I always maxed out in high school with four events every meet. In college, it's a lot tougher to compete that way. And with the 400 and 800 events so close together, I usually end up running one of them and the relay," said Hassing.
Now, along with a full academic course load and track practice, Hassing has found the balance in her routine.
"I think the key to being an athlete in high school or college is time management. I was always in a sport in high school, so I had to learn how to manage my time, and that is just intensified in college," said Hassing.
The junior athlete has experienced a bit of indoor track success for the Bulldogs this season, including a 2:21.12 first-place finish in the 800 on Feb. 9 at Lake Superior College.
Hassing also has helped the Bulldogs' 4x400 relay set a meet record at the Border Battle Meet on Feb. 3, running a leg of the 4:06.25 record-setting time.
"I think I like running the 800 indoor because you run more laps. It gives me more of an opportunity to hit my splits and to use strategy in the race," said Hassing.
During her prep career, Hassing set Blue Earth Area school records in both indoor and outdoor track for the the 400 with a times of 1:01.2 and 58.44, respectively, along with indoor and outdoor records for the triple jump with leaps of 35-4 1/2 and 35-7 3/4, respectively.
Along with her prep records, she also claimed first place in all four events of Blue Earth Area's first-place team finish in the true team meet her junior year.
Unfortunately for Hassing, injuries and illness kept her from competing in her first two outdoor collegiate seasons, but with the outdoor season approaching, the next challenge is an exciting one.
"At UMD, we run cross country in the fall, and then have the indoor track season and then outdoor. Having such a long season can definitely wear on your body and you get different aches and pains," said Hassing. "I haven't had a chance yet to compete in the outdoor season, but this year I think I will and I'm excited to get to come up with an outdoor 800 running strategy."
What started out as a way to stay in shape for basketball has now given Hassing a chance be to successful in college athletics.
"I knew that as an athlete I was too short to play volleyball or basketball anywhere for college, and so I started thinking about track," said Hassing. "When I got here, it was such an eye-opening experience because there is a whole world of people that are incredibly passionate about running. I think it's something that will always be a part of my life now."