FAIRVIEW VILLAGE — With the amazing high school cross country career Kara Steinke strung together it is hardly surprising colleges from across the country were eagerly recruiting her.
The Methacton standout never lost a Pioneer Athletic Conference dual meet from the day she lined up for her first one as a freshman, going undefeated in the PAC-10 all four years, winning all four PAC-10 championship titles. She was annually the area's highest finisher at districts and states. The Mercury All-Area Girls Cross Runner of the Year for each one of her four high school seasons. Steinke has also been the Warriors standout distance runner in spring track.
The Division I programs heavily recruiting her included Syracuse, Louisville, Penn State, Alabama, DePaul University, Colorado State University, Eastern Carolina, Harvard, Cornell, University of Buffalo, High Point University, with the list going on and on.
Steinke also excelling academically didn't hurt.
She eventually narrowed it down to Penn State, Syracuse, Colorado State, DePaul and the University of San Francisco.
But one trip to Colorado State University was all it took for Steinke. She made her mind right then and there and committed to continue her cross country and track career at Division I Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo.
"Going into my college search, I was hoping that when I visited the right school, I would just know and have that feeling,' Steinke said. "And that's exactly what happened at Colorado State. I just fell in love with it, with everything about it. There is nothing I can think of that I dislike about the whole entire school.
"And I know that I am not just going to a school to run. Because a lot of people ask, ' Why do you choose them for running over the other schools?,' because there are better running schools. That's not why you pick a college; you are picking it for your academics first. In my book at least.'
She plans to major in exercise science.
Steinke realizes the air up in Colorado will take some getting used to.
"It's thin air and it's really high elevation and I know it's going to present a new challenge,' she said. "I do know it could be extremely negative. I don't know how my body is going to take it. Hopefully, it takes it well. We'll just have to see how it goes. It'll be different, that's for sure.'
Steinke first visited Penn State and DePaul. But once she was at Colorado State, she promptly cancelled her scheduled visits to Syracuse and San Francisco.
'Starting out, I was seriously considering all them,' she said. "But I just knew Colorado State was it for me. I was there for a couple of days. The girls on the team are great, and the coach, Art Siemers, is awesome.
"The girls on the team really like him, and that's good to know. I spend a lot of time with him and with the girls and he was more like a friend. Last year was only his first year coaching there and their boys team made it to the NCAA National Championships. So I have already seen the tremendous things that he has done for the team.'
Last season might have been his first one at Colorado State, but Siemers is a 12-year coaching veteran and was a standout runner at Illinois State, where he ran both track and cross country in the early 90s.
Steinke will also compete in track but was mainly recruited for cross country. Her Methacton cross country coach, Steve Mahan, sees her choice as the perfect fit.
"I think the Colorado State signing is an awesome opportunity for Kara because she is so happy,' Mahan said. "She loved the campus, the coach, the team, the location, all of it. I am very pleased with her desire to go there and race for them. I know she will do well.'
But she will have to give up her second love, and that is playing basketball. Through all her high school cross country and spring track years, she has also been the starting point guard on the Warriors varsity basketball team.
"I am going to miss playing basketball and I'm already thinking about that,' she said. "Right now, I don't know when my last game is going to be. If we make it on to districts, I could be playing and realize that this is my last game. I think that's when it's going to really hit me that I will never ever play in another basketball game in my life after that. I've been doing it since I was about five, so that will be hard.
"It will be good, though, because every single winter I have been training for track and playing basketball and that takes a toll on your body. So next year one of the pros about not being able to play basketball is, my body is going to be able fully focus on running, which, hopefully, is going to help me in the long term.'
As for her goals for college, they are also seem more long term than immediate.
"I don't really know if I have many goals starting out my freshman season,' she said. "I just want to go and see how it goes. I'll have more goals once I run my first couple of races.
"Definitely, one of my goals for the whole entire college career is to be able to run at an NCAA championship, whether that is in cross country or track. I want to be able to do that at least once.'
Follow Rosemarie Ross on Twitter @RoseRoss31