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Katherine Germann finishes Valparaiso career with three majors, perfect GPA
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Katherine Germann finishes Valparaiso career with three majors, perfect GPA

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It didn’t take long for Mike Straubel to figure out that Katherine Germann was a special athlete.

The longtime Valparaiso cross country coach was having a preseason meeting with his team in the fall of 2016. As distance runners sat and listened through Straubel’s training regimen, Germann, then a freshman, was furiously scribbling down notes and hanging on every word.

“She was the first person that I ever saw taking diligent notes,” Straubel said. “It paid off for her. She didn’t come in all that fast, but she ended up dropping over four minutes by the time she was done. That’s evidence of the work ethic and the diligence that she has."

Germann shined as a cross country runner at Valparaiso, where she led the Crusaders in both the 5K and 6K as a senior. The Cincinnati native finished her career ranked in the top 10 in program history in both distances. She also delivered on the track, leading Valparaiso in both the 3,000- and 5,000-meter indoor runs this year.

Germann’s work on the athletic field is only one part of her story. She was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team and has a chance to be named an academic All-American. Germann also earned the 2020 Laurel Award, which is given to the Valparaiso graduating student-athlete with the highest GPA. She finished her academic career with a perfect 4.0 GPA while earning majors in biology, Spanish and humanities. She also was a member of Christ College, Valparaiso’s Honors College.

“I loved biology in high school and I knew that I always wanted to do that,” Germann said. “I also knew that I loved Spanish and I want to work with under-served communities. My love of Spanish really married well with biology. Finally, I picked up humanities because I finished bio a semester early and I wanted to stay on. I really loved working in Christ College.”

Germann’s note-taking introduction her freshman year was all the proof Straubel needed to know that academics and athletics were going to work seamlessly for the distance runner. That didn’t mean it didn’t require some finesse and sacrifice along the way.

“It was definitely challenging,” Germann said. “I thought at first that it would be a lot like high school where I’d have the commitment to go to practice and then time to do homework after. I realized that both were a bigger commitment, but I always kept an eye on my priorities. My coach and my teammates were always very supportive if I needed to miss class because of a lab. I would go practice early in the morning and one of my teammates would come out and keep my time for me. Everyone was supportive.”

Germann’s outdoor career was cut short due to COVID-19, paving the way for her to focus solely on her studies during the back half of her final semester. Germann will attend Ohio State’s College of Medicine this fall where she plans on studying to become a doctor.

“I was very disappointed to lose out on my final track season, but I do think the response was appropriate and necessary,” Germann said. “It’s been kind of amazing to see how the world has to work together. The health of the entire community, seeing that come together has been a good thing. It definitely gives me more appreciation for the limited resources that we have in health care and the differences and the distribution in health care.”

While Germann’s time at Valparaiso may be complete, her time as a competitive athlete, and even a student of Straubel, is still going strong.

“I kept giving her workouts after the season ended and I’m still doing it this summer,” Straubel said. “I’m giving her workouts to maybe run at Ohio State or to work toward qualifying for the Boston Marathon. She loves to compete and she loves to work hard.”

Gallery: 50 famous Region athletes

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Paul Oren has been a correspondent reporter for The Times since 2005. A member of the United States Basketball Writers Association, Paul has spent more than 15 years covering Valparaiso basketball.

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