Athlete of the Issue: Catherine Sommerfeld ’23


Catherine Sommerfeld ’23 runs in the West Suburban (Silver) Conference on Oct. 15 at SC (Photo courtesy of Sommerfeld)

Molly Burke, Sports Editor

Catherine Sommerfeld ‘23 only began running consistently going into her freshman year when she joined summer running to train for soccer. The girls were so nice that they convinced her to join cross country for the upcoming season, she said. This decision ultimately led her to five State appearances for both cross country and track and field, an equivalent cross country State appearance her sophomore year due to COVID-19, and a Division I commitment to run at Vanderbilt University.

“Last year was my breakout year. I was All-State in cross country and track,” Sommerfeld said. “The goals for this season are to repeat that again and hopefully break some records and perform better at State.”

As a senior, Sommerfeld led her cross country team this year, placing fourth individually at Sectionals and seventh as a team at State, she said. She was proud of her team for this accomplishment, as they were unable to qualify as a team in the 2021-2022 season.

“We were able to show our progress over the year and how much it paid off, so that was really exciting to be a part of,” Sommerfeld said. “I couldn’t have achieved so much without my teammates. They are always there to support me whether during warmups, in practice, or for races. We have a solid training group over two seasons that workout together and support each other.”

This past fall, Sommerfeld underwent a minor injury in her hip that kept her on the bike with easier runs for about a month, varsity head cross country coach Eric Simon said. Even with this setback, she was able to ease back into races and compete well at State, an outstanding accomplishment without competing the whole season.

“Catherine has been one of our best runners the last couple of years,” Simon said. “She’s a leader by example, she always has a desire to do better, to get better and that’s something I love to see on our team.”

Simon and her other coaches, like head track and field coach Greg Frandsen, hope for her to stay healthy for the whole track season as it begins. Consistency and many days of work is going to build up and really mean something by the end of the year, Simon said.

“She has had a couple aches and pains that she’s recovered well from, but I want her to get through the whole season without missing any days or weeks from injury,” Simon said.

Being a senior, Sommerfeld knows that she needs to set a good example for her teammates through her actions, drills and workouts, and always try to give words of encouragement, she said.

“We only gained two freshmen over this past year and we as seniors have been very welcoming,” Molly Hill ‘23 said. “Catherine is one of many on the team for them to look up to if they are aiming for a successful track season.”

Something special about Sommerfeld that separates her from the rest of the competition is her ability to stay calm, Simon said. She does a really good job of controlling herself and keeping good running form, as well as avoiding getting too crazy in workouts.

“You want to avoid getting tight and tense when running, but Catherine is able to stay calm when things are getting stressful with workouts and races,” he said.

With this being her final high school season, primarily running the mile, two mile and 4×800 meter relay, Sommerfeld is excited looking ahead into her running career. She has already met her future teammates and is confident they have the same competitive intentions: perform well and make the team as strong as possible, she said. She hopes her teammates remember their confidence and all that they’re capable of, especially when competing at a really high level.

“I am so proud of her for running at Vanderbilt this coming fall and will for sure be giving her a visit,” Hill said. “I hope she stays healthy and continues to grow that hard working mindset to improve her running career in the future.”