Big 12 Campus Correspondent
A mentor can make all the difference in the career of an athlete. Brett Favre mentored Aaron Rodgers, and now he is a Super Bowl champion quarterback. In the case of K-State junior cross country runner Martina Tresch, she was fortunate enough to come to a program that had multiple leaders to take her under their wings.
Tresch hails from Rueti, Switzerland. Her journey to K-State is one that she will never forget. She sent out emails to cross country coaches stating her desire to run cross country in the U.S., luckily for head coach Michael Smith, he was quick to reply.
"She sent out emails with her (race) times and her desire to come to the US and I was the first to reply," Smith said.
Tresch chose K-State without even visiting the campus. While she would have to pay for her first year, Tresch was thankful for the opportunity. "It showed that these people cared about what I do, so I am going to go there."
When she arrived in Manhattan, Kan., she was just another walk-on, but Coach Smith saw something different.
"As a freshman, she came in kind of as an unknown," Smith said. "She was a walk-on, but we felt like she was better than a walk-on. Four weeks into her being here, I knew we had a little goldmine. I know that we are fortunate that she came here."
Tresch entered a program that was led by future All-American senior Beverly Ramos. Under her guidance, Tresch would flourish and become one of K-State's best runners.
"It was probably the best thing that could ever happen to me," Tresch said. "She really explained to me what was going to happen. There were moments where I had doubts. I was not feeling good, but she said that it would take some time and it would pay off."
Coach Smith saw how the mentoring from Ramos and others helped set up Tresch for success.
"I think that it was extremely helpful," Smith said. "When you have others setting the bar high for you, the only way she could determine was based on the evaluation of the people we had who were good.
"When you have good people who are All-Americans or are competing to be All-Americans, then that is what everyone else views as good and they will train to that level. It really helped her to have those types of people."
Both Tresch and Smith have seen big improvements in her racing abilities.
"I definitely made big improvements," Tresch said. It is amazing how the improvements came, but I hope I can continue to improve."
The improvements in Tresch's performance can be seen in her race results. As a freshman, Tresch finished 30th in the Big 12 Championship and 80th in the Midwest Regional Championship. In her sophomore season, she finished 23rd and 11th in the same races respectively. This year she took another step forward as she finished ninth in the Big 12 Championship.
"The improvement has been significant," Smith said. "A lot of people have the ability to be that good. There are lots of people that have a chance to be that good but not everyone is wired to do everything they are supposed to do all the time and she does everything that she is supposed to do all the time and that's why she has improved as much as she has."
Tresch is a great example as to the effect of having someone take you under their guidance. The combination of her abilities and the mentoring of Ramos and others have completely transformed her.
Tresch will continue to make strides in her career. Last season she was a major reason why K-State qualified for the NCAA Championships as a team for the first time in 10 years. After the experience she had there, she is ready to make an encore appearance.
Aside from being a great cross country runner, Tresch is also an accomplished track and field star. This past summer during the European Under 23 Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic she set a new Swiss national record and K-State school record in the 3,000 meter steeplechase with a time of 9:51.96 finishing fifth.
"It was great. All of my coaches and friends were there, it was just great and it gave me a lot of confidence."