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Pepsi-Cola Student Athlete of the Week: Kate Kirwan

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 10:28 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Kate Kirwan is an exceptional senior at Harrisonburg High School.

Kirwan is a three-sport varsity captain for the Blue Streaks as she leads the team in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. She runs the second-fastest 5K in the Valley with a time of 19:23:90.

For two straight years, she anchored the 4x800 meter relay team that placed 9th in the VHSL 5A State Championships.

Kirwan shared her gratitude for the support from her fellow Blue Streaks.

“Everyone thinks of running as an individual sport but at the end of the day, it comes down to who you are surrounded by when you run,” Kirwan said.

From a young age, Kirwan ran with her family. Years later, she joined the cross country team at Thomas Harrison Middle School.

“I watched her as a middle school runner and I could see that she was very talented. When she entered high school, she made an immediate impact on the team,” said cross country coach Mary Jo Saunders.

Indoor and outdoor track coach Jerry Hertzler spoke to Kirwan’s evolution as a leader on all three teams.

“She leads by example. Everyone knows that she is a valuable resource and they look to her for leadership,” Hertzler added.

Kirwan also excels off the track as she attends environmental science classes at the Massanutten Regional Governor’s School.

She serves as Vice President of the STEM Academy Executive Board and is the co-founder of the Shenandoah Youth for Climate Advocate Board at Harrisonburg High School.

Kirwan also competes in varsity debate, where she helped lead her team to a first-place finish in the 5A Region D event.

“Kate is one of the most driven individuals that I have ever worked with in school. She is the only student to have ever beaten me in a debate round in class... and she did this as a sophomore,” said debate coach and English teacher Aaron Cosner.

Kirwan is currently exploring opportunities to continue her academic and athletic careers at the college level.

“I want to continue to love running for the sport of running, whether it is for a club or for a college team,” Kirwan added.

The local community will continue to follow Kirwan as she shines on and off the track during her final year at Harrisonburg High School.

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