The most decorated Central A&M track star made her decision where to compete next year. Eastern Illinois University got the nod.
If Kaitlyn Corzine was tagged to do a remake of “Beauty and the Beast” she could play both lead roles. The well-spoken, fair-haired maiden transforms into a beast when she steps on the track. When the gun sounds she runs with fire in her eyes and a ferocious expression that makes you think she will run right over you and take your lunch. Then she’d sit under a shade tree on a gingham blanket and eat your lunch with birds twittering in the background.
Corzine has 11 state medals out of 12 opportunities. She earned five state medals last year at the IHSA Class A State Track Meet at EIU. She was on the 4th place 4x400 relay. She was on the 7th place 4x100 relay. She placed 7th in the 100 meter hurdles and placed 5th in the 300 meter hurdles. She also has a piece of the 2012 IHSA Class A Team State Champion Raiders. Corzine won a state medal the previous year.
Corzine has earned a state medal every year since 6th grade. In middle school, she won a state medal for the 800, the 4x4 hurdles and the long jump. Her team was also IESA State Runner-up when she was in 6th grade and repeated as state champions when she was in 7th grade and 8th grade.
Former A&M star Megan Stringer, the #1 collegiate pentathlete in the nation this year (D-III), has 7 individual state medals in high school and Corzine has six, with this spring’s track season to go.
Corzine had been Okaw Valley all-conference every year.
Corzine was considering running next year at Illinois College in Jacksonville, where Stringer (a senior) is now attending. She also was considering Greenville College. But she chose Eastern.
“I had it in the back of my mind,” Corzine said. “I’ve been there for State and I like the coaches. They saw my potential before I knew I was good enough for Division I. Coach Summerfield the throwing coach talked to me when Janie (Howse) (A&M ‘12) went there. The sprinting coach also talked to me, as well as Coach Akers.”
What events will she run at EIU?
“Hurdles, hopefully,” Corzine said. “Maybe the 400, high jump. They may try to move me around and help on relays.”
When asked about a future in the pentathlon Corzine said she was interested.
“Illinois College talked to me about that,” Corzine said. “I don’t know if EIU has that. But, I’d try it. I’m up for anything.”
Another factor in Corzine choice of EIU was team camaraderie. It’s something Corzine has enjoyed at A&M.
“I’ve been to their meets,” Corzine said. “The team seems to be like my own team. They cheer for each other, the throwers, the sprinters everyone. That’s the kind of team I want to go to. I know I’ll have people pushing me, but also cheering for me. It’s kinda like a family.”
Family is a big part of Corzine’s journey to track stardom. Her father ran track in middle school and her brother Caleb was a state track athlete in high school, a hurdler.
“He was a big factor in me hurdling,” Corzine said. “In middle school I was an 800 runner. I’m pretty competitive with Caleb. He helped me and I wanted to beat him. The only way I beat him was in green signs. You know those signs on the edge of town when you medal at State? He got two. I got three.”
When Corzine was asked about others who helped her on her way she mentioned Coach Cline from middle school.
“He got us in shape and developed the love to run,” Corzine said. “Coach (Todd) Rork (A&M Sr. High) was a thrower, but he does all his research for our workouts to help us.”
She also cited teammates.
“Megan (Stringer), of course,” Corzine said. “She was older, but I always looked up to her. And, Madison (Renfro). She kept me strong. She was my toughest competitor, but also by best friend.”
Renfro won the state title in the 100 hurdles last year and she and Corzine battled and pushed each other for three years in the hurdles.
Coach Rork, who was a state thrower in high school for Shelbyville, has appreciated having Corzine on his team.
“She is very versatile,” Coach Rork said. “She leads by example. Her work ethic is unmatched. That will be hard to replace. Her brings the same effort to practice as she does to meets. She does a good job with the younger teammates with what they struggle with. She helps kids in her own class, as well.”
Rork also cites Corzine’s work ethic in the off-season.
“She stays active in the winter, if she’s not playing basketball. I give her off-season workouts and she does them. She takes others to do them with her. In the spring she comes in fresh and conditioned, mentally and physically.”
Rork was asked what difference their would be for Corzine when she moves up to the collegiate level (D-I).
“A new uniform,” Rork said. “That’s the only difference. She doesn’t need to work any harder.”
Corzine isn’t sure what kind of a degree to get at EIU.
“I know you are not suppose to just be focused on track, but I’m excited about it,” Corzine said. “The academics are good at EIU, too. Track will help me keep up with studies. I’m looking at communications, maybe English. I want to establish myself the first couple years and then dive into a major.”
With her versatility and her efforts in the hurdles, which event does she like the most?
“It used to be the 300 hurdles,” Corzine said. “Now, it is the 100 hurdles. you can’t just run the 100 hurdles with your speed or strength like the 300. You have to have a rhythm. Everything has to be just right.”
Corzine also likes the 4x4 relay.
“It is the last race of the day and everybody is watching it,” Corzine. “It’s centerstage and everyone is cheering.”