In seventh grade Christina Kollien started running track to get in better shape for basketball season.
As it turns out, Kollien found out she was pretty good.
"All of a sudden it's like, 'Hey I broke the school record. Hey I have the fastest time.' It slowly started to become something I was good at and now it's what I'm going to do for the next four years," Kollien said.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena senior Christina Kollien, seated on the right, signed a letter of intent for track with Wayne State University on Friday. Pictured with Kollien are Alpena girls track coach Collin Riffert (standing) and her parents Beth and Mike Kollien.
Kollien, who has become one of the best hurdlers in Alpena High School history will get the chance to make history at the collegiate level after she signed a letter of intent with Wayne State University for track on Friday.
"This means a lot to me. I'm leaving basketball and going to track, but it's a big step," Kollien said. "Everything I do, it's my times, my work and dedication that's going to get me far. It's just me and the stop clock."
Wayne State has only recently started its track program and Kollien will be the Warriors' first hurdler. This year Wayne State's runners are all converted cross country runners.
In Kollien, the Warriors will get a state qualifier and an all-conference hurdler, who currently holds Alpena's girls school record in the 100 hurdles and has broken the mark five different times. Kollien has also been the Wildcats' MVP hurdler three years in a row and has set indoor track hurdle records with The Woods Track Club.
Kollien initially made contact with Wayne State coaches and as it turned out, the Warriors were looking for a hurdler. After visiting Wayne State in early February, Kollien chose the Warriors from a list of several schools interested in her including Northwood, Lake Superior State and Saginaw Valley State. Wayne's highly regarded School of Education was also a big draw for Kollien, who's always wanted to be a teacher and noted during her signing that sports is just a bonus as she pursues her career.
While the program is relatively new, that isn't stopping Kollien from setting high goals for herself and for her new team.
"Them having a new program is different. I can walk in and have the school record one week and lose it the next which is just another reason to work harder and say, 'You know what, you may be my teammate, but I'm here to work hard and I'm going to get better.'" Kollien said.
Alpena girls track coach Collin Riffert remembers watching Kollien as an eighth grader and knew then she had a lot of potential. Heading into her senior season, expectations will be undoubtedly very high as Kollien aims to become an all-state hurdler.
"She always wants to become better and that's just awesome. You know you can set up workouts, but for an athlete to get better that have to want it and she wants it, that's why she's so good," Riffert said. "As the years go by she picks up everything that you teach her, so her progression's been really great."