Athlete of the Week: Joe Kortenhof

Photo by Caroline Garrow.

Kelli Quick: You recently received All-Midwest Region honors with an impressive grade-point average of 3.87. How do you balance your school work with being a D3 athlete? Do you think being a D3 athlete has helped you be successful in the classroom? If so, how? 

Joe Kortenhof: It’s definitely difficult at times to balance school with athletics. Throughout my time in college, I have learned how to organize my days so I am not wasting any time that could be spent working or running. Most of the time this means I spend my Friday evenings working on homework rather than relaxing, because I know my weekends are filled with cross country meets. While this can be difficult and isn’t always fun, it is all worth it when I see the results of my hard work. Being a runner has absolutely helped my success in the classroom. Running has taught me everything I know about dedication, hard work and consistency, all of which are useful skills that can be applied to many facets of life.

KQ: This year you are finally a senior. Looking back at your time here, what would you say has been your biggest achievement in athletics?

JK: There isn’t really one specific achievement that I can definitively say I am most proud of. Yes, there are certain races that I performed well at, but I am prouder of the culmination of all the small successes and victories that I have experienced. I am proud of how running has shaped me and who I have become as a result of it. 

KQ: Did you always love track and field? What do you love about it and how did you get into it? Did you play any other sports? If so, why did you choose to stick with cross country and track?

JK: Since my freshman year in high school, cross country has always been my favorite sport with track coming in as a close second. As a kid, I played a lot of different sports, but I found that I was never coordinated enough to kick, catch or throw a ball properly. I joined cross country in high school because I wanted to try something new, and I fell in love with it because of my coaches and the amazing community of runners that I found. Getting used to running in that first year was a shock to the system, but I learned to love it and now I can’t live without it. All I need to be able to run is my body. I think that there is something special about that that other sports simply don’t have.

KQ: What do you hope to accomplish this season before your career as a D3 athlete is up? 

JK: My two main goals in the upcoming weeks are to win our Conference Championships and to qualify for the National Championships at the end of November. I would be incredibly happy to finish off my collegiate running career with these two accomplishments.

KQ: What is your advice that you would give to incoming freshman?

JK: My advice to incoming freshman is that hard work always pays off in the end. It may not be fun in the moment, but once you reach the point that you have been working towards, it is always worth it.

KQ: What is an inspirational quote that you live by?

JK: “Only the disciplined in life are free.” -Eliud Kipchoge

KQ: What legacy do you want to leave behind for yourself? How do you want to be remembered here at Lawrence?

JK: To be honest, I don’t really care if anyone remembers my name. I would rather that they remember my love for and dedication to running and find something in their own lives that they are passionate about and can dedicate themselves to.