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Track & Field Standout Crosses the Finish Line at Commencement, Prepares for Med School

Biology major, track star and published research author Kathryn Fanning is shown working in UAlbany's The RNA Institute labs. The Manlius native graduates May 18. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 13, 2014) — Kathryn Fanning’s academic and athletic accolades are well documented.

Fanning, who led the UAlbany Great Danes to seven America East Conference track titles, has left her mark on the track & field program at the University. Before she graduates after her final race in purple and gold, she will have become the school record holder in the indoor 1,000-meter run, the indoor one-mile run, and the outdoor 1,500-meter run. Additionally, she holds school records as a member of relays.

Academically, Fanning goes the distance as well. She holds a 3.98 GPA in her biology major, is a researcher at The RNA Institute, and is a published author in the Journal of Neuroscience. This fall, Fanning will attend medical school. She has been accepted at three of the four schools to which she has applied, and is waiting to hear from the fourth.

The America East has also recognized her academic performance, naming her to the conference All-Academic team seven times in her four years across cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track. In addition, she received the 2014 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.

UAlbany Track and Biology star, Kathryn Fanning

Fanning is a UAlbany record holder in the mile, 1500-meter and 1,000-meter runs.

Going the Distance as a Student-Athlete

Fanning attended high school at Fayetteville-Manlius, a school with a nationally renowned cross country program. She trained with the distance runners, although she competed in shorter events. During her recruiting process, UAlbany assistant coach Matt Jones told her she was going to move up to the mile in college, if she decided to be a Great Dane.

“Coach Jones recruited me to run the mile, and he made it sound like such a big deal, almost a rite of passage, that I wasn’t worried about moving up in distance from what I did in high school,” she said.

Someone as talented as Fanning could presumably put in less than full effort on the track and still enjoy more success than most. But to maximize her potential, Fanning realized that she needed to put in the time doing the extra things away from practice and away from competition. She needed to be conscious of her nutrition, her sleep schedule, and she needed to take the appropriate time to recover properly.

“Being an athlete is a much bigger time commitment than you’d think,” Fanning said. “There’s obviously practice and races, but then there is the time it takes to get to and from practice, there are the weight room sessions, and also making sure you’re getting the right food and enough sleep. Plus, taking an extra half hour to go to the trainer, even if nothing is bothering you, because you know it will keep you healthy and ready to perform.”

Balancing the time commitments between athletics and academics is a necessity for any student-athlete, and the necessity became more acute for Fanning when she decided she wanted to attend medical school in her sophomore year.

After that realization, she soon discovered how much work it was. Meeting her commitments for classes and for track was downright difficult at times. She learned to take advantage of an hour on the bus on the way to a meet, just to get her homework done.

Junior year was just work. Just trying to push through, get done what I needed to. But it was also the year that everything came together for me, running wise,” Fanning continued. “And now, as a graduating senior, as I prepare to leave, I’m trying to make the most of the remaining time I have.”

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