National high school record-holder, four others set for Feb. 27 induction
(Second in a series highlighting the five members of the Sacramento Running Associationís 2016 Hall of Fame class. Today: Alex Kosinski).
Alex Kosinski made a name for herself at El Dorado Hillsí Oak Ridge High School, but her impact on the sport of long distance running extends well beyond the foothills of El Dorado County.
Kosinski was at the forefront of the golden era of high school girls running, representing the Sacramento area at a time of tremendous growth and success within the state and across the nation. She carried the flag for the region and did it with a tremendous amount of pride.
"The Sacramento running community has always been very supportive of my running," said Kosinski, one of five inductees in the Sacramento Running Associationís 2016 Hall of Fame class. "It is such a tight-knit community that genuinely inspires local athletes to reach their potential.
"High school was where I really made a name for myself in the running community.
"The journey that I had as an Oak Ridge athlete is one that I will never forget."
Kosinski was a star in the 800 meters, the 1,600 meters and the 3,200 meters plus she competed on the Trojansí 4x400-relay team. She was the runner-up at the CIF State Track Meet in the 1,600 meters as both as a sophomore and a junior but her greatest race came as a senior in 2007. She set the national high school record in the 1,600 meters with a time of 4:38.15.
"When I toed the line that day, I knew how I trained and how bad I wanted it.
"I was so confident in myself that I think it was the only time in my whole career that I entered a race not being the favorite but knowing in my heart I was going to win.
"I remember running so effortlessly fast.
"I went into the race with two goals; to win and to break the record.
"It felt amazing to accomplish both of those goals, especially in front of my home crowd."
Kosinski was also a very accomplished cross country athlete where she was a three-time section champion and placed in the top-five three times at the California State Cross Country Championships, including a runner-up finish her senior season.
"Alex had a very strong impact on high school girls running in the Sacramento region and the state," said Rob Fairley, Kosinskiís high school coach. "She was well known throughout the state as being an excellent track and cross country athlete."
Kosinski, 26, joins CIF champion Clifton West, long-time Mira Loma and Del Campo High School coach Bob King, talented ultramarathoner Jim Howard and long-time Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run race director Greg Soderlund in the 2016 Hall of Fame class, which will be honored at the SRAís Hall of Fame and Annual Achievement Awards dinner on Feb. 27 at the Holiday Inn Capitol Plaza in Sacramento.
Tickets for the 6 p.m. event are $50. For more information, visit RunSRA.org.
Kosinski went on to star at the University of Oregon where she set the schoolís record in the indoor 5,000 meters, was a seven-time All-American and captured a Pac-12 title in the 10,000 meters.
Once again, Kosinski was at the forefront. Her commitment to the University of Oregon served as a turning point for the program.
"One of the top female distance runners in school history, Alex Kosinski played an integral role in restoring the University of Oregon womenís track and field and cross country programs to a place of national prominence during her illustrious career as a Duck," said Vin Lananna, TrackTown USA President and former Oregon track and field head coach.
The University of Oregon womenís cross country team had not qualified for the NCAA Cross Country Championships, which features the nationís top 32 teams, since 2000 before Kosinski arrived in 2007.
During her freshman year, Oregon qualified for the championships for the first time in seven years and finished second. Kosinski finished 11th overall that year. Oregon went on to finish second again her sophomore year, ninth her junior year and 12th her senior year.
In indoor track, the Oregon women had never finished in the top-10 in the nation before Kosinski arrived. The Ducks finished ninth her sophomore year and then went on to win five straight NCAA titles.
In outdoor track, Oregon hadn't finished in the top-10 since 1993, but they were eighth in Kosinskiís freshman year in the spring of 2008 and then went on to finish second in her final three years.
Kosinskiís presence on campus also elevated the Ducksí recruiting efforts.
Jordan Hasay, a Southern California product who was named the 2008 Girls High School Athlete of the Year and is one of the most highly decorated girlís high school distance running athletes of all time, followed Kosinski to Oregon. The two battled throughout their high school careers both in track and cross country.
"I have always had a great relationship with Jordan," explained Kosinski.
"It was a friendly competition and we always pushed each other to be better.
"We shared the same goal, and that was to run fast.
"Without Jordan in that race (the record-setting 1,600 meters in 2007) I donít think I would have broken the high school national record.
"In college, it was awesome to have such a talented runner and great person as my training partner."
Kosinski currently lives in Portland, Ore. and is a yoga and spin instructor, a personal trainer and fitness model.
Kosinski and the other four inductees join the 22 members already in the SRA Hall of Fame. The inaugural class of 2013 featured Billy Mills, Rae Clark, Eileen Claugus, Chris Iwahashi, Helen Klein, Paul Reese, Dennis Rinde and Linda Somers Smith. The 2014 class included Michael Stember, Al Baeta, Patti Gray Bellan, Lindsay Hyatt Barr, Harold Kuphaldt, John Mansoor, Heike Skaden Mansoor and Tim Twietmeyer. The 2015 class featured Sally Edwards, Walt Lange, Eric and Mark Mastalir, Jim OíNeil and Bill Finkbeiner.
The Sacramento Running Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to finding new ways to encourage people of all ages and abilities to run. The SRA is committed to developing new, quality running events that appeal to a broad variety of runners.