By McKenzie Benoit
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Humble, spunky with long, purple hair are just a few things that make senior women’s cross country runner Martina Tresch stick out from the others.
A native of Rueti, Switzerland, Tresch’s passion in high school was running. She finished third in the 1,500 meters, and she was runner-up in the 5,000 meters at the 2009 Swiss National Championship. High school was not going to be enough though. She wanted to continue her running career, and Kansas State was calling her name.
“I think that it is just good luck that I ended up [at K-State],” said Tresch. “I saw that Coach [Michael Smith] made athletes that were not superstars in high school just really respectable runners. I thought this was a place where I could really develop my running and that is why I wanted to come here.”
Tresch was excited to be at K-State, but coming to a new country was a little difficult at first for her.
“The language barrier was difficult when I first came here, and it sometimes still is,” said Tresch. “The whole team has welcomed me very well. Everyone cared so much about me which made it easier. I think we have a very good family feeling in Manhattan.”
The atmosphere at K-State has been very welcoming to Tresch when she arrived to compete for the Wildcats in 2009. The sense of family and comfort has made her feel like being at home even when she is 5,000 miles away from her actual home.
“I did not have a whole lot of expectations when I first got here and did not know what I was getting myself into,” said Tresch. “I am definitely glad it turned out that way. I was meant to end up here. I am thankful everyday for the people that I have met here.”
Tresch has accomplished many things as a member of the Wildcats, ranging from finishing first place at the J.K. Gold Classic in her cross country debut as a freshman in 2011 to running in all six races for K-State, including the 2011 NCAA Championships where she finished 47th .
As an athlete though, there are always a few bumps in the road.
Last season, Tresch suffered an Achilles injury that forced her to redshirt her senior year in order to have another year of eligibility to run for K-State. With last season off, she is not going to let the injury put her a step back from everyone else.
“My Achilles is still sore, but we are trying to make it work day by day. Right now, we have it managed very well,” said Tresch. “I do not let it bother me, and I go out and compete in cross country to the best of my ability.”
Not many would know that Tresch had an injury last season. Her attitude and motivation keep her going every single day. Head cross country coach Michael Smith thinks she is mentally and physically tough.
“[Martina] has learned to adapt, and she has learned to become more patient,” said Smith. “Injuries happen, and she has learned that injures are not forever. The things that she has dealt with are not career enders; they are just bumps in the road. She has learned to just roll through them, and have an attitude that allows her to come back from them and be successful.”
Tresch is not in the sport of cross country for herself. Her teammates mean the world to her. She is a team player according to Smith.
“The injury was very tough on her, but look where we are now,” said Smith. “She not only does this for herself, but she derives a great deal of pleasure with being with others. It is that much more fun when your team is competitive. In this sport, it is not just about the individuals. This is more about teams, and she is a team player.”
Tresch is an individual that does not just care for herself, but for the team. As the lone senior on women’s cross country squad, it is her responsibility to be the leader of team.
“I want to help my team get better,” said Tresch. “I am not sure how much I can teach them, but I want to be there for them. I feel like I am a person someone can talk to in good or bad times. I want to be the encourager of the team.”
That is just what Tresch does too.
Sophomore Mary Frances Donnelly does not know where she would be as a runner today without the help and guidance of Tresch. She believes Tresch is a quiet leader, but more importantly leads by example.
“[Martina] has been awesome,” said Donnelly. “She is an amazing leader. She is a role model to so many of us. I love looking up to Martina, and being able to train with her. She is such a positive person. She is the rock of the team. She is a very humble person, and very motivated. You will never hear her complain. She is always giving it her all.”
With the 2013 season underway, the women’s cross country team placed first in the J.K. Gold Classic Duals and second in the Woody Greeno Invitational. The team is already coming out strong, but with Tresch being the leader of the team, she also has goals in mind for this season.
“I want to get a high team finish this year for the Big 12,” said Tresch. “I have been here for so long now, and I have seen this team go through so much and develop. I think we have the people to do something special this year.”
With being a leader comes great responsibility. Tresch realizes that it is her job to make sure that her and her teammates work hard to get the level they want to be by the Big 12 Championships in November.
“I am really looking forward to Big 12 competitions. We have a great group of girls on our team that can do something big,” Tresch said.
Coach Smith believes that he has the right group of girls that will compete and strive to perform at the best of their abilities.
“We have runners, and we have depth,” said Smith. “Those things usually equal success. My task is to keep them healthy and point them in the right direction, and they will do the rest. We are on a path to climb a mountain. We have gotten halfway up, and I can see the summit. I am hoping they make a push towards the summit, and we will be on top of the mountain looking down, and they all feel good about themselves.”
Tresch and her teammates are in the race for each other and makes supporting each other a priority. Tresch thrives on that. Her best memories are not only competing to the best of her ability, but also being with her teammates, her second family.
“Being out on the course for a race and coming into the last straight away and into the huddle are times that give me chills,” said Tresch. “We are all there together saying our prayer. We are getting ready for the big thing. It is indescribable.”
Even though this is Tresch’s last season as a Wildcat, she will not only take away her abilities of techniques of running that her teammates and coaches have taught her, but also take away life long friends and values that will help her succeed to her future.
“When playing in any sport, you learn a lot about yourself: how to push yourself, how to be disciplined and being strong,” said Tresch. “It’s not just for yourself, but for your teammates as well. To represent yourself, but even greater, something bigger.”