By Larry Reilly (USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office)November 9, 2009
Considered a decent runner at the start of this year\'s high school cross country season, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart's Patch High School freshman Katherine Castro surprised herself and her competition by capturing first place in the Division-I European cross country championships in Schwetzingen Oct. 30. Castro had hoped to at least medal in the 5-kilometer race by keeping the defending champion, Natalie Pecoraro from Frankfurt International School, within sprinting distance, but cheering fans changed her strategy. "We were at the half-way point and the crowd was cheering Natalie and me on," Castro said. "Against my dad's advice not to kick it in too soon, I picked up the pace. I knew I had enough in me to maintain the [increased] pace and still have the energy to finish strong." Castro's increased pace seemed to affect Pecoraro, who finished in fifth place. Although her overall lead was increasing, Castro knew the race wasn't won yet. "I knew the girls trailing me were fast, so I kept a fast pace," said Castro. "As I made my way up the last hill, I sprinted the final 200 yards." Castro clocked in at 20:15 and beat the second place finisher, Kaiserslautern's Colleen Davis, by 19 seconds. Next year, Castro's status will probably change from a decent runner to the one to beat, and she is fine with that. "My goal is to win Europeans as a team," Castro said. "That is far more important to me."