When Alissa Pudlitzke joined the Evergreen Storm Track Club five years ago, it put her in the fast lane toward running for Camas High School and Boise State University.
“I remember the first time I was interviewed, I was asked if I wanted to run in college,” she recalled. “I had no idea back then. I didn’t even know what I was going to wear the next day. And now, I’m going to run in college. It’s just amazing how far this club has taken me.”
Pudlitzke wore the Storm uniform for the last time at the USA Track and Field Junior Nationals June 26, at Hayward Field, in Eugene, Oregon. She earned seventh place in the 3,000-meter race with a time of 10 minutes, 20.30 seconds.
“My parents told me, ‘this is your last high school meet. Go out there and make it a memory,'” Pudlitzke said. “I just went out with that mindset, and I was really happy with how I did.”
The heat proved to be the first obstacle. Pudlitzke said it was 108 degrees on the track at the start of the race.
“I had never experienced that before. I just had to stay calm,” she said. “I couldn’t change the weather, but I wasn’t going to let it stop me.”
Next, she had to overcome the fear of stepping up to the starting line with the best runners in the nation.
“Normally, I get super nervous. This time, I was just so excited,” Pudlitzke said. “I worked so hard to get here. I’ve got nothing to lose.”
Pudlitzke established a comfortable pace through the first few laps of the race. With 800 meters to go, her competitors made their move and so did she. Pudlitzke passed two more runners as she kicked to the finish line.
“That last 200 really made my race,” she said. “I finished with this big smile on my face. I didn’t know what place I got, but I knew I had nothing left. I should be proud of that.”
Pudlitzke leaves for Boise State University Aug. 16. She’s taking this next big challenge in stride.
“I’m nervous. I’ve never lived anywhere else than Camas. I love this community,” Pudlitzke said. “I’m also excited to have this opportunity. A lot of girls run in high school, but they don’t get to in college.
“I’m thankful for it,” she added. “When I get to come home, it will be really special.”