Gophers’ Kelsey Sather brings leadership, positivity to women’s cross country team

Sather’s life is focused on much more than running.

Redshirt Junior Kelsey Sather sprints to cross the finish line of the Oz Memorial at the Les Bolstad Golf Course on Friday, Sept. 6.

Kamaan Richards

Redshirt Junior Kelsey Sather sprints to cross the finish line of the Oz Memorial at the Les Bolstad Golf Course on Friday, Sept. 6.

by Brendan O'Brien

It’s 7 a.m. on a Thursday morning, and runners on the women’s cross country team are preparing for an early morning workout.

Despite most of the runners being tired or groggy, redshirt senior and co-captain Kelsey Sather brings a different energy.

“She’s always there smiling, [saying] ‘Good morning! How are you?'” redshirt sophomore Tate Sweeney said. “She always makes it fun.”

According to women’s cross country head coach Sarah Hopkins, Sather came to Minnesota to compete in track and field. In fact, Sather never ran cross country before coming to college. Early on, Hopkins said she had Sather slowly transition to running longer distances. Now, in her fifth and final season on the squad, Sather has been voted by her teammates to be a co-captain two seasons in a row and earned Academic All-Big Ten honors twice in two seasons of competing in cross country. 

Sather has seen the correlation between how she trains during cross country season and the results she achieves in track the following spring. She said running a race for about 24 minutes, like she does in cross country, has helped her build her mental toughness and prepare for the shorter distance races she competes in for track. 

Becoming mentally tough is not the only benefit Sather has gained from running cross country. She loves the community of friends she has made over the years on both the cross country teams and other athletic teams at Minnesota.

What her coaches and peers are impressed by is how Sather is able to balance many other activities along with running. 

“She is good at so many things,” Hopkins said. “But I’m always amazed every time I talk to her. I feel like there is some new facet of her personality or her skill set.”

While at Minnesota, Sather is double majoring in chemical engineering and chemistry and minoring in Spanish. In the past two summers, she has had internships for Smiths Medical and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company. 

Sather’s interests do not stop there. She also plays the violin for one of the campus orchestras, participates in a campus ministry group and volunteers with any time she has remaining in her schedule.

“She’s one of these people that has all these different interests and is somehow able to just meld them all together and make it work where most people would get stressed out and fold because they are doing too much stuff,” Hopkins said.

But Sweeney thinks one of the best qualities Sather possesses is being a great leader that other teammates gravitate toward. 

“She’s done a really good job of making people feel more comfortable with pushing themselves in races and putting themselves out there,” Sweeney said. 

After graduation, Sather plans to work in the pharmaceutical medicine field. But for now, her goal is to be more competitive for the remainder of the cross country season and be ready to run in the spring.