By Doug Gorman
It didn't take long for Clayton College and State University cross country runner Allison Kreutzer to make a name for herself.
The Lilburn native exploded on the scene as soon as she arrived on the Morrow campus, and if things fall just right, the school's talented long-distance runner could bring home a national title this weekend at the NCAA Division II meet in Evansville, Ind.
Kruetzer won five races for the Lady Lakers this season, including the Peach Belt Conference title.
The good news for Clayton State coach Mike Mead is Kruetzer is just a freshman with many more races left to be run.
"She has done everything we asked of her," said Mead. "She worked out really hard this summer; she is very driven and it has paid off."
Kruetzer tuned up for the national meet with a second place finish at the NCAA Regionals.
It took Kreutzer just one race to establish herself as a contender. Competing in the Georgia Collegiate, she won the non-Division I portion of the race. Her time was good enough for second place overall, losing out to a runner from Auburn.
She then won the Furman Invitational, the Wingate Invitational, and the college division of the Georgia State Invitational, setting the stage for her conference title.
Kreutzer is relatively new to long-distance running, but it is something that seems to come easy for the Providence Christian High School graduate.
As a junior she finished 10th at the state meet. She improved her place by half as a senior to fifth. Since coming to Clayton State, she has sliced two minutes off her time.
"I have surprised myself a little bit, but I have just tried to work hard, and my times have kept dropping," she said.
Kreutzer was just the second freshman to win the Peach Belt Confernce crown, and now the sky seems to be the limit.
"She has really raised the bar for our program," said Mead. "Now we just need to find some runners to complement her, and maybe we can get a whole team to the national meet in the near future. That is our goal."
Recruiting Kreutzer was simple. She and her family contacted Clayton State, made an official visit, and then informed Mead she wanted to sign during the NCAA early signing period last fall.
Kreutzer should also help Clayton State this spring during the track season. As a senior,1 she won the region in the 1600 and 3200 meters. At the state meet, she finished second in both events. The freshman, who has decided to major in health system's management, is excited about her bright future.
"People ask me what my goals are, and I'm not real sure. This has all happened so fast," she said. "I would love to think about making it to the Olympic trials at some point, but that is not something I am dwelling on. I'll just have to see what happens."