When 2009 Fredonia High School graduate Cailin Kowalewski chose to attend SUNY Geneseo, education was the first thing on her mind.
Track and field was nearly an afterthought.
Now the junior who is majoring in English with minors in communication and Spanish is the school's record holder in the 800-yard run with a time of 2:12.57. She is also a member of the 4x400 relay team which also set the school record.
Both records were broken at the ECAC event.
"It was something I considered, but wasn't sure if I could hold my own in," Kowalewski said of joining the track and field team. "I didn't know if I could keep up. They have a good distance program."
This past was a break-out season of sorts for Kowalewski. After a freshmen year she describes as, "Well, my freshman year," Kowalewski was hampered by a mid-foot sprain her sophomore year.
"Things just got better," she said, describing her junior season. "Things came together over a course of two weeks. Hopefully it will continue. I don't know if they were not up to par, but I hadn't come into my own yet and I don't think I have yet. I think I can always get better. As a junior, you can say it was time to show what I think I can really do and push myself more than I have been. I think that was the difference."
Kowalewski's time of 2:12.57 in the 800 at the ECAC was something she felt was a long time coming.
"It exceeded my expectations," she admitted. "The goals were to hit 2:16 or 2:15. I had pretty much hit a plateau at 2:20 and hadn't even hit my personal record from high school. I just crossed the finish line at the ECAC and looked at the clock and didn't know what to do. It was unreal.
"It was one of those races, and it's happening more frequently," she continued. "You don't think at all. I was basically chasing the two girls who were leading, and the only thing I wanted to do was not fall off of them. It was really surreal. I shut everything out."
Kowalewski noted a lot of her success is credited to Fredonia High School coaches Mike Marshall and Mark Fitzgerald.
"I had a lot of really good coaches in Coach Marshall and Coach Fitzgerald," she said, noting she recently visited the high school's indoor team. "It sounds weird to say they built me, but they did when it comes to work ethic."
As for personal goals, Kowalewski wants to run a 5K, a half marathon followed by a full marathon.
After a freshman and sophomore season which did not meet Kowalewski's standards, she is glad to see things are finally looking up for her when it comes to athletics at the college level.
"It feels nice that things are coming together in the way that they have," she said. "I'm not ready to settle back yet. I want more things like this to happen and I am going to make it happen."