The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

May 9, 2009

Katelin Rains at Minnesota State

MSU senior continues dominance

MANKATO — The accomplishments of senior Katelin Rains of the Minnesota State University women’s track and field team are almost too numerous to count — three straight national pole vault championships, 11 conference titles, five school records and more.

Her name has been synonymous with MSU women’s track and field for the past four years. It’s time to ask the question: Is Katelin Rains the greatest female athlete ever to compete at Minnesota State?

Considering her long list of successes as a pole vaulter, long and triple jumper, and 400-meter relay runner, it’s hard to argue against her. Before the debate can begin, however, it needs to be determined how the term ‘athlete’ is being defined.

• Are we talking strictly physical specimen? (speed, strength, stamina, flexibility, etc.)

• Are we talking consistently high performances in her sport?

• Are we talking mental toughness as well as physical toughness?

Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines athlete as: “one who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina.”

Dennis Amundson has a two-time All-American volleyball player named Ashley Nachreiner who just completed her eligibility and who happens to be an excellent all-around athlete. She was last fall’s Offensive Player of the Year for MSU, leading the team in points (521.5), kills (438) and service aces (52).

“And you should see her throw a softball, it’s unbelievable,” Amundson said. “Her brother was a minor league baseball player, and Ashley’s got a heck of an arm.”

Amundson says it’s much more difficult to gauge athletes who compete in team sports as opposed to individual sports. “When you’re on a team, you can’t win a national title unless the whole team does.” Amundson said.

Former MSU volleyball coach Marge Burkett says Luonna Van Meveren, who competed in both volleyball and track at MSU from 1984-88, was another superb athlete.

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