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Jul. 7—When Kat Clason’s track and field season ended in the Division III district meet at Cuyahoga Heights High School in May, the now Grand Valley graduate found herself at a crossroads.

She could go to Florida for college and give up on continuing her athletic career, or find a college track program where she could continue to do what she loves.

In the end, the love to compete won out.

After a high school career that found her battling injuries and the mental fatigue that comes with them, Clason will continue her academic and athletic career at Mount Union University. She will study biomedical engineering and be a part of the Purple Raiders track and field program.

“I’m very excited to start a new chapter in my life and continue to grow in academics and athletics,” Clason said of her decision to attend MU.

A three-sport athlete who also played soccer and basketball during her time at GV, being able to continue to compete at the college level is exciting for Clason because it’s the next level after high school.

It is also exciting because of what she has had to overcome to get this opportunity.

During the summer of 2019, Clason underwent surgery to repair a torn pectoral tendon.

She followed that up by rupturing her achilles just before the start of her junior school year.

The injury wiped out her entire year for sports. As it turned out, Clason’s track season was cancelled anyway because of the coronavirus pandemic.

That served as little consolation to Clason, though. She could not work out or practice, instead was forced to wonder when or if she’d ever get to compete again.

“It was very scary,” she said. “Even going into my senior track season, I knew things were not going as I planned. It really got me conscious about being able to compete

in college, but with the help of my parents and other people encouraging me, I’m going to go and try to compete in track.”

After a lengthy rehab, Clason returned for all three sports her senior year.

The injuries, though, were still something that she said had an affect on her.

“I definitely didn’t have the strength in my calf that I needed,” Clason said. “It was very hard.”

She overcame the pain enough to earn a trip to the Division III meet this past spring. Clason competed in the high jump and 300-meter hurdles, but her dreams of one day advancing to the state meet ended there.

“This year didn’t go as planned,” Clason said. “I missed by a very small amount [in the 300 hurdles] from going to regionals.”

A ‘small amount’ was less than half a second.

Her time was 51.59 placed fifth, but was just slow of the time needed to advance to regionals.

She also took 10th in the high jump with a leap of 4-10, well short of the bar she needed to clear to move on.

The injuries may have caused Clason’s high school career to end a little sooner than she would have liked, but rather than sulk in disappointment, she had to decide next would be if she would run again.

Clason had her eyes on schools down south, but none of them had track programs.

“I had it in my mind that if I could not compete, I was definitely going to go to Florida,” she said. “But, I loved competing. So I knew if I worked hard enough, I would be able to again.”

GV track coach Kurtis Fisher also seemed to know.

“Kat is a very hard working young lady,” the coach said. “I am very excited for her as she continues her career at Mount Union. I can’t wait to see what more she can accomplish this year and in the future.”

Clason said she

did not need to look

at many schools to

find what she was looking for because MU had it.

“I really liked the coaches,” she said. “Their track team is very good. I’m a very competitive person, and I’m very excited to be a part of it.”