By Jesse Wood
Jan. 13, 2015. The Watauga County Board of Education honored Watauga High School senior Kathleen Mansure on Monday evening for a stellar cross-country career that was unexpected in the beginning.
Along the way, Mansure became the fastest girl to ever run cross-country at the local high school and squared off with the top 40 runners in the country in December. She was the first female WHS runner to compete in nationals.
“Kathleen is somebody I will talk about for years,” said WHS cross country coach Randall McDonough while introducing Mansure at the school board meeting.
When she began her running career at Watauga High School, she had never run an eight-minute mile before. But she was determined and had the drive to be great. On the first day of practice, McDonough said that Mansure sought out Darby Middlebrook, a former state champion on the team and now a runner with the Michigan Wolverines. Mansure ran with her that first day, asking “100 questions,” McDonough said.
Mansure’s improvement throughout her short career has been astounding. Last year, she placed 74th in the 2013 4A N.C. High School State Cross Country Championships. This past November, she placed second, running the 5,000-meter race in 18:13.17 at the Ivey Redmon Sports Complex in Kernersville.
This year, she won the 2014 Wendy’s Invitational, finishing with a time of 17:33, 16 seconds better than the runner-up and just one second off of the meet record at the McAlpine Greenway Park in Charlotte. She won the 5,000-meter race at the Furman Classic in Greenville, S.C., with a time of 18:44.32, finishing nearly a minute ahead of the runner-up.
Her 2014 results earned her a spot in the state championships, where she finished in second place as mentioned earlier. Her standing in that race led to a spot in the Footlocker Regional XC Championships, which was also held at the McAlpine Greenway Park in Charlotte. While she placed in eighth on that course, she was able to shave 18 seconds off of her previous time in October, finishing with what the WHS Cross Country blogged called a “staggering” 17:15. Her mile pace was 5:33 for the 5,000-meter race.
With that performance, Mansure earned a slot in the National Championships in San Diego in December. She became only the fourth Watauga High School runner and first female runner to qualify for nationals in the school’s history. In San Diego, Mansure ran the 5,000-meter race in 18:37 and placed 28th overall. She placed fourth among runners in the South Region.
Now, Mansure has her eyes on college. She has signed a letter of intent with University of North Carolina-Greensboro. When this was announced, UNCG head cross country coach said, “Kathleen is running at a very high level and we are very excited about her transition as a college athlete. Kathleen is a big piece of the puzzle as we try to bring championships to Greensboro. We couldn’t be happier to have her wear navy and gold in the next few years.”
A daughter of Victor and Margie Mansure, Kathleen plans to major in pre-physical therapy.