A pack of girls, jostling for position, strain to inch out their
competitors. They run their hearts out. Unfortunately, they can
only hope for second place.

Why?

Because way in front, out of reach, an athlete sporting maize
and blue gracefully strides toward the finish line. With a powerful
finishing kick, Katie Erdman wins another race for the
Wolverines.

The sophomore, recently named Big Ten Athlete of the Week, has
been having a monster year for the Michigan women’s track and
field team. Erdman has won all five individual events she has
entered this season, four by a margin of two seconds or more. In
all of her events — the 600-meter run, the 800-meter run and
the mile run — Erdman has been unstoppable.

Given her pedigree, the Cadillac native’s success is no
surprise.

“My parents were athletic,” Erdman said. “My
mom played volleyball and my dad still has (Harbor Beach High
School’s) mile record (4:40), which I’m
chasing.”

Erdman is breathing down her father’s neck. She ran a
4:47.85 mile in January’s Michigan Intercollegiate.

Her three younger siblings, Laura, Beth and David, are also
excellent athletes. But Erdman’s family provided more than
just the genes for success.

“I had tons of support from my parents and also had great
coaches,” Erdman said. “Together they made me believe
that there was no limit to what I could accomplish.”

Erdman’s record-holding father laid the groundwork for her
future running success. Each summer, father and daughter would go
running together. The grueling long-distance runs taught young
Erdman how to be a warrior.

“He’d pull me through each mile,” Erdman said.
“Dad always made me realize that I could push a little harder
for a little longer.”

The long-distance training would prove useful when Erdman joined
the cross-country team. Although she specializes in shorter
distances, Erdman became an integral part of the 2003 Wolverine
squad that finished fourth in the nation. In fact, she believes the
experience was her greatest athletic accomplishment — better
than her Michigan records in the 600 and 800-meter runs. The extra
work paid major dividends once the indoor season began.

“All the miles that I put in then are paying off
now,” Erdman said. “I really owe a great deal of my
success this season to my running in the fall.”

With help from her cross-country training, Erdman has avoided
any trace of a sophomore slump. Coming off a year in which she
earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, Erdman has turned heads
at every meet, and she continues to improve. Topping an extremely
strong field at the Meyo Invitational with an 800-meter run time of
2:05.38, she automatically qualified for her first individual trip
to the NCAA Indoor Championships.

What does the future hold for Michigan’s superstar runner?
Some more collegiate victories seem likely, but are visions of
Olympic rings dancing in Erdman’s head?

“Who wouldn’t want to go?” Erdman said.
“But it is the least of my worries. I’m just going to
keep working as hard as I can.”

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