So much for the sophomore slump. With a year at Michigan in the books, sophomore Alyson Kohlmeier arrived back in Ann Arbor this August well rested and ready to kick off the cross country season.

After suffering a sprained IT band (the tendon running from the hip to the knee), Kohlmeier redshirted the spring track season last year – a break from running that would prove to be beneficial down the road. In July, she returned home to Ontario, where she began training for upcoming summer races. Kohlmeier won the 3,000-kilometer race at the Pan America Junior Games in August. The victory gave her the perfect mindset for her return to school.

“I made sure I didn’t over-race at all over the summer,” Kohlmeier said. “Then, ever since I got back, when we went to training camp at the end of August, I have had just quality training and that has just made the difference.”

Since the cross country season started on Sept. 2, Kohlmeier has finished in the top-three in all of the races she has competed in – including back-to-back wins at the Great Meadows Invitational and the Spartan Invitational. In addition, she was named Big-Ten co-runner of the week for the week of Sept. 14, an honor that proves the sky is the limit for Kohlmeier.

“I think she is capable of being in the top-10 at nationals,” Michigan coach Mike McGuire said. “There are a few races between now and then, and she will get tested at a higher level, and she will use these as stepping stones to get improve even more.”

For Kohlmeier, it just seems like night and day when she looks back on last season in comparison to this one. Despite having some success on the track – earning All Big-Ten first-team honors as well as finishing in third place at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional and seventh place at the Big Ten Championships – she lacked the experience to take her running to the next level. But she’s already been able to do that this year.

“Overall, I’m enjoying this year so much more than last year,” Kohlmeier said. “I think a lot of it is just being used to the college life. Last year, everything was just so overwhelming, and I was out of my element. It’s nothing like high school. Coming in this year and just knowing what to expect with training and with school has been really reassuring.”

Despite the fact that Kohlmeier doesn’t run in a group like the other Wolverines do during races, her teammates are still finding that her success is motivating them to train harder. During races, the Wolverines frequently use Kohlmeier as a barometer to determine how well they are doing. After all, they know if they can see her in the distance they must be doing a pretty good job.

“I couldn’t be happier for Ali,” sophomore Erin Webster said. “With all of her success, I think that it’s just positive for the team. Just running with people every day that are better than you makes you better. Ali’s success helps everybody every day when we train.”

As for the upcoming track and field season, Kohlmeier hopes she can carry her cross country success indoors and dominate the distance events

“I’m actually looking forward to the indoor season,” Kohlmeier said. “There is a 3-kilometer race. There isn’t one in outdoor, and that is my favorite distance to run. I’m really excited about that, but right now I’m mainly thinking about cross country because there is still two more months of it left until Nationals.”

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