Athlete of the Year: Katharine Showalter

One point eight miles.

That’s how far, or not far, someone in the athletics department had to travel from campus to discover one of the most decorated athletes in Georgia State history.

Katharine Showalter, who captured the first Sun Belt championship in school history last fall, grew up right around the corner, in historic Grant Park.

Katharine Showalter

And 1.8 miles is nothing to her.

That’s about the distance of the 3,000m steeplechase; a “running event on steroids” as she described it in a report by Georgia State’s Robert Carnes, in which athletes must scale waist high hurdles and a lengthy water pit.

Showalter finished the event in a shade fewer than 11 minutes at the Yellow Jacket Invite earlier this spring.

She won the event, yet not for Georgia State.

Her allegiance this spring’s outdoor track and field season has been to “unattached,” an identifier for those runners who compete as individuals and not part of a team.

Showalter, a senior English major who will graduate this May, decided to redshirt this season.  She will compete for Georgia State next spring– her last year as a collegiate athlete, her first year as a graduate school student.

Choosing an Athlete of the Year shouldn’t be an easy process. And this year, it wasn’t.

Nationally ranked players and All-Conference performers litter the Georgia State campus.  There was no shortage of qualified applicants.

But, the homegrown distance runner is just on another level.

“Katharine will be remembered as one of the top female athletes ever to compete for Georgia State, and for being our very first Sun Belt Conference champion,” Director of Athletics Cheryl L. Levick said.

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That Sun Belt Conference championship capped Showalter’s dominating cross-country campaign, which reads more like a career resume rather than a single season of accomplishments.

Sun Belt Runner of the Year, All-Sun Belt first team, Sun Belt Conference champion, five time Sun Belt Runner of the Week, five individual titles, team best time at all eight events and registered new personal best times in three distances– 4K, 5K, and 6K.

She also became just the fourth female runner in school history to compete in the NCAA National Championship.

The indoor track and field record book also had to be reprinted this winter as Showalter set new school marks in the mile and 5,000m and was twice named the Sun Belt’s Track Athlete of the Week.  She finished in the top six in the three different events at the indoor championship.

It’s easy to see why we selected Showalter as Athlete of the Year.

But that’s not all there is to the reserved runner who loves to read, yet can’t manage to find the time to, and wants to travel, not run, once she’s done with school.

She’s filled trophy cases at her own home and those at the Georgia State Sports Arena and earned nearly every academic award there is.

But, that’s not enough.

She longs to perfect her skating and parkour skills in the near future, as well as become fluent in Spanish.

The Spanish will hopefully land he in Latin America, no country in particular, where she can teach English as a second language.

Several years ago, Showalter spent her Spring Break in Romania.  Not wondering the halls of the Grigore Antipa National Meusem of Natural History or lounging in Bucharest’s beautiful Herastrua Park, but working at an orphanage.

When the athletics department announced that men’s cross-country and track and field teams were being shuttered to make room for a women’s swimming and diving team, Showalter voiced, and penned, her displeasure.

In a time when many athletes, especially at the collegiate level, are reluctant to dispute their governors, her loyalty towards her fellow runners, her friends, was, not to be overly dramatic, both refreshing and inspiring.

She also sings in a choir.

None of these things seem like a very big deal to her, at least not outwardly.  She only mentioned them in conversation as a means to make other points.

What’s even more odd, is she seems to think she isn’t a big deal.  Not in an egotistical way, but in general.

Showalter told a Signal reporter earlier this year that she didn’t think she would be a very competitive runner in a different athletic conference and that she was considered a dud her freshmen year at Georgia State.

It’s hard to imagine either one of those statements being true, much less both.  Humbleness is probably the culprit as far as they are concerned.

Showalter begins her graduate school studies in the fall.  She will have one more season with the Panthers; outdoor track and field the following spring.

No matter what the outcome, she has already proven worthy of being named Athlete of the Year and that Georgia State was lucky to ever have her.

She is a great athlete, and an even better person.



For more Panthers of the Year:

Person of the Year: Grace Lee

Faculty member of the Year: Dr. Michael Black

1 Comment

  1. Great article, Rhett! Katharine is a long time friend and former teammate, and this is a great overview of this dream warrior, tree climbing, building scaling, record breaking, smile inducing champion. I’m not always pleased with the way Georgia State treats their athletes, but I salute you on your pick for Athlete of the Year in 2013. Go Katharine!

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