Alumni Mitch Klingler (‘14) and Cassie Vince (‘19) are former members of the cross country and track teams here on campus. Klingler holds the track and field outdoor record for the 5K and Vince holds the record for the 5K and the 10K. The record-holders got engaged on May 8, 2020 and have since been traversing the world of post-collegiate running together.
After graduation, Klingler initially took over as assistant cross country coach. He has since moved down other avenues of his career.
“I took over the assistant cross country coach job for the first three years after I graduated, so running was always in my life every single day. I still don’t think I could stop running right now if I wanted to,” said Klingler. “It’s just part of what I do. It feels weird if I don’t go out and run. Running is what I really enjoy doing, so it’s easy for me to keep going on and doing it. I still love competing. It’s part of my life, and I don’t know what I would do without running.”
Vince, like Klingler, has not given up her love of competing. She is using her post-collegiate running career to accomplish goals she wasn’t able to in college.
“I felt like I had a lot of unfinished business in college,” said Vince. “I feel like I would get into really good shape and then either not perform at nationals or get sick right before nationals. I think post-collegiate running has been a chance to explore my fitness a little more than I was able to in college with a little more leeway.”
Vince made her marathon career debut at the Indy Monumental on Nov. 9, 2019, in Indianapolis, Ind. There, in her first-ever marathon, Vince qualified for the 2020 Olympic time trials, running a time of 2:38:21. Klingler had accomplished the same feat of qualifying for the trials on June 22, 2019 at the Granma’s Marathon in Duluth Minn.
“For me, my end goal was to qualify for the trials,” said Vince. “Mitch did it, and we thought it would be something cool to do together. His big run motivated my big run, so going into the race, that was the goal. All the workouts leading up to it showed that I could run, hopefully easily, that pace. So, I think his marathon run and just watching that was such a big day for him and the emotions with that. I really looked up to his performance for that to motivate my performance.”
Despite the inspiration Klingler provided, Vince stumbled upon a mental block the day before the Indy Monumental and questioned whether or not she was going to achieve her goal of quaifiying.
“So, expectations going into the race was to hit the qualifying standard. Unfortunately, Indy the day of was freezing. It was, like, 19 degrees. It was super windy. So, the day before, I was calling my mom crying cause I was like, ‘I worked so hard for this,’ and the weather, you know, you can’t control that. But it has a big effect on your performance. Freaking out and going in I had to adjust my expectations a little. Like, just finish my first marathon.”
Despite the weather, once Vince started running, it all clicked into place.
“The goal was still the trial standard, but with that weather, you never know what to expect. Just the start of the race, it was one of those magical days,” said Vince. “You can’t put into words accomplishing something that big.”
After achieving their goals to qualify for the trials, Klingler and Vince had to find new goals to keep them motivated throughout their training.
“Our first goal was to qualify for the Olympic trials, and then we did it,” said Vince. “We were like, ‘Oh we made it to the trials,’ but we weren’t motivated for that race. So many people qualified, and we like to go into races feeling competitive. And honestly, neither of us were going to contend for a top 50 spot. So, we reached out to Boston because we both really wanted to run that race. With everyone else in the trials, it was a down year, so we both got accepted into Boston’s Elite Field. That motivated us a ton to get ready for that.”
“Unfortunately, Boston was canceled due to COVID-19, and I think sometimes we regret not doing the trials just because of how that played out,” said Vince. “I think we both feel like we left a little bit undone with the Olympic Trials this year. So, it would be amazing to qualify together again and run the 2024 trials, but that’s still three years away.”
With COVID-19 postponing most races, Vince and Klingler are deciding to do next in their running careers. So far, they haven’t done any virtual races. Klingler did, however, have the opportunity to compete in an in-person half-marathon where participants were tested for COVID-19 prior to the race.
In the meantime, as they decide what is next for each of them, the two have continued training. Vince and Klinger motivate each other while training by having harder effort workouts on different days. This allows them to place support and emphasis on one individual at a time.