By Rachael Kuhn, '14
Mitchell Klingler added to his impressive distance running resume during the recently completed Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Track & Field Championship, securing a place on the all-league team with individual titles in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter events.
When asked why he chose Albion as the place he wanted to continue his track career he named Albion’s cross country coach, Hayden Smith.
“He really wanted me to be a part of the team and I wanted to be a part of a team which had as much love for the sport as I did,” said Klingler. “Coach Smith definitely shared that excitement with me. That’s why I decided on Albion.”
Klingler’s interest in track and cross country started at surprisingly young age. He began in third grade as the manager for a track team. After that his impressive accomplishments only grew. Starting off his freshman year with a bang, Klingler was a member of the Albion team that qualified to run in the NCAA Division III Championship.
Not only did he start strong, but he is finishing strong as well. He achieved all-MIAA and all-region status in cross country, and has been tabbed as the MIAA’s athlete of the week three times between cross country and track. In track alone, he has broken the school records at the 3,000- and 5,000-meter distances, as well as the stadium record in Defiance, Ohio.
He came seconds away from becoming the first individual to reach the finish line at the MIAA Cross Country Championship, close behind his teammate Paul Lewis. That result only fueled Klingler’s fire.
“Being so close to a win like that has definitely motivated me to push myself harder,” said Klingler. “I’m going to be first next time.”
For Klingler, track is not just a sport, but a lifestyle. His family members are his biggest supporters, as well as his off-season coaches.
“My dad, brother and I are always traveling around the country running in random races just to keep our competitive edge during the off-season,” said Klingler.
“They have been by my side all the way,” Klingler added. “For my first outdoor meets in Alabama and St. Louis (Missouri), they were the only parents that drove down there to watch. I broke the 5K record at both places and it was amazing to have them there to be able and see me accomplish that.”
Although his family is behind him every step of the way, Klingler’s talent comes from his love and dedication to this sport. He is involved because running is something he wants to do. His goals and aspirations drive Klingler to be the star athlete he is today. His 5,000 meter time was 15th after the MIAA Championships, and the runners with the top 20 times advance to the NCAA Championship.
“I want to be the best I can,” said Klingler. “I do it because I love to run, and I love this sport.”
He explains the reason behind his love for competing in track and cross country comes from their great combination of solidarity and competition.
“Even though I am doing this for myself, I am very competitive,” Klingler commented. “By doing both cross country and track, I get to be a part of a team and be a competitor. With cross country there is a really big team aspect, but track is fun because you’re competing for individuals.”
The goals that loomed large at the beginning of the track season are now being realized.
"It feels amazing to hit my goal that I set out for the beginning of the year to be league champ," he told the Coldwater Daily Reporter. "I’m honored to be able to run for Albion College and Coaches Lance Coleman and Dave Egnatuk. I wouldn’t have thought I’d be 15th in the nation at this time if you asked me last year. Nationals would just be icing to a wonderful season and career."