CALIFORNIA, Pa. (EYT/D9) – Being from a town of a mere 300 citizens never slowed down 2017 Redbank Valley High School graduate Katlynn Traister (literally) when it came to finding her way to the Division II ranks as a sprinter.
(Photos courtesy of Clarion University Athletics)
As a middle-schooler at track and field day, she solidified her joy for running — and even broke one of the school’s records in a sprinting event along the way.
As a result, she knew when she hit high school, she knew she would be a sprinter on the track and field team.
It was not until her junior year that Traister started to think that she was not ready for track and field to end after her senior year of high school. Luckily for her, it did not have to, and in fact, her college career could even be continued right in Clarion County.
“I never thought college track would be an option for me, and I was a little scared of leaving the area, but the track and field program saw something in me and it was definitely for the best for me to be a college athlete,” Traister said.
Along the way at Clarion, Traister went on to set personal bests three times in both the 100- and 200-meter dash and currently sits second all-time in the 200 with a time of 25.71.
Traister still holds the Redbank Valley record in the 200 and was an all-Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference in the 100 and 200 during her senior year.
Traister improved her times continuously during her college track and field career, but unfortunately due to COVID-19, she missed out on her junior season as a Clarion student-athlete. Due to this, she has another year of eligibility that she could use, but has decided to focus on graduate school and beginning her professional career instead.
During her final year at Clarion, she had a fifth-place finish in the 100 and a fourth-place finish in the 200 at the Earlybird Open held at Lock Haven, a fifth-place finish in the 100 at the IUP Invite, a third-place finish in the 100 and a fifth-place in the 200 at the Mountain Cat Last Chance meet.
She qualified for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships in May of this year.
“I wanted to prove the wheels had not fallen off the wagon and show I could be resilient despite missing out on my junior season,” Traister said. “I continued to train on my own, running at the track, through the town of Clarion, and even doing some at home workouts since the gyms were closed. I am glad I did not give up and kept grinding to have the final season I did.”
After her graduation from Clarion in May, she began her master’s degree at California (Pa.) University in exercise science. The program will allow her to earn several different certifications in the field of exercise, including a speed specialist certification, which she will be finishing up in the near future.
Traister was also able to earn a graduate assistantship in the strength and conditioning department, so sports will still be a part of her life, even though her competitive days as an athlete being behind her.
As of now, she is working with the football, volleyball, and basketball teams for the Vulcans and will be doing so for the entire 2021-22 school year as she anticipates graduating from Cal in the summer of 2022.
She also has started a fitness Instagram page centered around body positivity and trying to make exercise more inclusive for all. This fitness page also allowed her to form a partnership with a brand called TydalWear as a brand ambassador and she is able to sport their merchandise for a discount while also offering a discount code for customers.
“I started my page to be a positive influence, get my name out there, and as a way to help build my professional portfolio,” she said.
So far, the page has done just that, but even just a few years ago, having the confidence to create a page like this is something she admits she did not have. Overall, she credits her mother, Mary, as the person who encouraged her most to become a more outgoing person over the last few years.
“She pushed me out of my comfort zone and I would consider myself and extrovert now,” said the Redbank Valley alum. “She has always been my biggest advocate and hardly missed any of my races over the years.”
Traister also complimented her high school track coach, Mike Fricko, and her college track coach, Ben Bevevino, for seeing her potential, pushing her to achieve more, and supporting her progress over the years.
In her free time, which she does not have much of these days, people may find her reading a book to escape reality or finding peace out in nature instead of in a crowded weight room.