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Track whim turns into double national championships for Centre College’s Annie Rodenfels


Soccer and basketball were Annie Rodenfels’ primary sports in high school before she gave track a try on a whim as a junior. She liked running in soccer, one edge she had when she joined the track team. Her sister was attending Centre College— not as an athlete — and told Centre cross country and track coach Lisa Owens about Annie. Owens visited and her excitement convinced Rodenfels to attend Centre.

Now she is coming off a double Division III national championship — she won the 3,000-meter steeplechase for the second straight year and also won her first 5,000-meter run national title.

As she was riding home from the national championships with her parents Sunday — “I got very car sick, too” — she reflected on how different her life would be if she had not decided to come to Centre College

“Right now running is not my biggest passion but it is one of the largest,” Rodenfels, who was third in the 2018 cross county national championship (the best finish ever by a Centre runner), said. “It has changed who I am for the better. It has taught me discipline. Running is something I want to do the rest of my life.

“What if I had not decided to run track in high school or what if coach Owens was not so welcoming or if Serena (Gale-Butto) had not been there (as a Centre runner) to push me. I would never have grown to love running without all that. Now running is one of the most impactful events on my life and has taken me some great places. I don’t want that to stop, either.”

She plans to pursue a professional track career in the steeplechase starting with a race this weekend in Nashville. After that she hopes to do marathons and ultra marathons.

“I want to break records forever,” Rodenfels, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association South/Southeast Regional Track Athlete of the Year, said.

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