BALTIMORE, MD – In just her sophomore year, Felicia Koerner has proven to be one of the top runners in Johns Hopkins’ storied history. During the 2016 cross country season, the sophomore picked up NCAA Mideast Region and Centennial Conference Championship titles, en route to being named the USTFCCCA Mideast Region Women’s Athlete of the Year and Centennial Conference Runner of the Year.
Koerner came to Baltimore from Munich, Germany, where she was often on her own for training. Although Koerner credits this with teaching her to be intrinsically motivated, at Hopkins, under head coach Bobby Van Allen, Koerner has found a team full of training partners who have helped her excel.
“That really means a lot to me,” Koerner said. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come to Hopkins because I wanted to have an actual team, have people to run with, have people to push me.”
The women’s cross country team pushed itself all the way to its fourth NCAA Championship in five seasons in 2016. Koerner earned All-America status in the race, concluding her stellar cross country season.
“I always say at the end of each season that my favorite is the upcoming season… Winning Nationals was huge, of course… but usually when I’m done with cross country, I’m looking forward to… being able to chase a PR.”
Now, as Koerner takes the track for the indoor season, the sophomore has already earned a spot in the Hopkins record book, topping the charts in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters. In fact, Koerner has recorded historical NCAA Division III top 10 times in each event, posting the ninth-fastest time in the 5,000 (16:41.95) and running the second-fastest time in DIII history in the 3,000 with a time of 9:24.34.
“For track & field, it’s a lot more of an individual sport,” Koerner said. “I do want as many people as possible to qualify… For me personally, I started out the season wanting to All-American, now I’m thinking I maybe need to be a little more ambitious.”
All-American in track & field is almost certainly on the horizon for Koerner, who noted her improvement from last season as she spoke about her season and career goals.
“Last year, I just wanted to be in a spot where I would be able to qualify for NCAAs, so now I think All-American is reasonable… When we’re actually racing, it’s going to be a whole other story. I don’t want to take anything for granted or expect anything. All-American would be great.”
With much left to come, Koerner’s sophomore year has already been one of the greatest by a Blue Jay, and Koerner is quick to mention the details that have helped her find success: coming to Johns Hopkins as an international student, experience under different coaches, a year of JHU training under her belt and a rested summer.
“I think it might be an advantage to me that I came internationally,” Koerner said. “This is kind of a detail, but I think it helped for me to go from kilometers to miles because I didn’t have any ideas in my head of paces I should be running… When I got here I didn’t know anything, so I think it was easier to progress without realizing that I was running harder than I had been before.
“It helped me that I already transitioned from one coach to another… When I look at a lot of other athletes, I think the transition can be really hard from high school training to college training. While I think that was true for me too, it was maybe a little easier because I’ve done it before.”
With her transition complete, Koerner has blossomed into a runner to be reckoned with. She has captured the Centennial Conference Track Athlete of the Week Award four times this season as a threat in every race she runs. In addition to her record-breaking performances in the 3,000 and 5,000 meter runs, Koerner also posted the fastest mark in the mile by a Blue Jay this season.
Koerner looks to continue her standout year as Johns Hopkins prepares for the Centennial Conference and NCAA Championships meets in the next several weeks.