This Runner Found Her Form, And Is Now After All-Time Marks

* Logan St. John Kletter competes in the 3,200m in January at Youngstown State

Photo Credit: Christian Lisle/MileSplit Ohio

"Last year, I felt like so out of place, and like I didn't belong running with any of the girls in pretty competitive heats. I could have really run fast, but nerves were holding me back." 

by Lilah Drafts-Johnson - MileSplit Contributor 

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    Mt. Lebanon (PA) senior and recent Gatorade Pennsylvania Girls Cross Country Player of the Year Logan St. John Kletter wasted no time this indoor season, running a then-U.S. No. 1 mile time of 4:48.08 in a stacked VA Showcase field in early January and a national No. 2 time in the 3,200m at Youngstown State later in the month, lapping the entire field to finish in 10:14.94.

    Whether she's running solo or in an elite field, St. John Kletter has proven that she has the racing temperament and fitness to leave a mark in the high school history books before she departs for the University of North Carolina next fall.

    Her recent 3,200m performance is a No. 2 all-time mark in Pennsylvania and the fastest ever posted by someone in the state in January.

    "I was so happy with that race," St. John Kletter told MileSplit recently. "I wasn't expecting to run that fast, especially because I was all by myself. I just kind of got into the rhythm. I'm trying to stay focused on what's up ahead, because I know I can do even better."

    St. John Kletter is coming off a career cross country season, having won the PIAA State Class AAA Championship before moving on to place fourth at Foot Locker Northeast and 34th at Foot Locker Nationals. She captured her first PIAA state title in the 3,200m last outdoor season and placed seventh in the 2-mile at New Balance Nationals Outdoor, one spot shy of All-American accolades.

    But despite that strong upward trajectory, it hasn't always been a smooth ride.

    "Last year, I felt like so out of place, and like I didn't belong running with any of the girls in pretty competitive heats," St. John Kletter said. "I could have really run fast, but nerves were holding me back."

    St. John Kletter said there was a reason for that. As she was gearing up for a strong sophomore outdoor season in 2022, she experienced foot pain caused by Baxter's nerve entrapment -- which was initially misdiagnosed as plantar fasciitis -- and that shut down her spring season.

    It was a slow start back as she regained strength and fitness in her junior year.

    "That summer, I was definitely struggling with confidence," she said. "I really couldn't get any workout how I wanted to, but I just kept going and never gave up."

    St. John Kletter qualified in the mile at New Balance Nationals Indoor last March, placing 58th with a time of 5:06.51.

    When she thinks back on her race, it isn't the time or the place that frustrates her.

    "I felt like my mind was giving up on itself before the race had even started," she said. "I remember telling my coach that it felt like I was on the starting line with 20 extra pounds on my back, the weight of my nerves and it made it so much harder to just get off the line and run."

    Navigating the nerves that accompany opportunities to compete on a national stage is an important part of the developmental journey for any high-level athlete.

    Mt. Lebanon head coach Oscar Shutt applauded St. John Kletter's ability to bounce back from these early setbacks.

    "When she has tough races, she's able to assess and learn from it and apply it to future races," he said. "In my 18 years of coaching, Logan has the best instincts of any runner I've been around. She has that sense of when to make a move and she always gets it right."

    St. John Kletter agrees that her mindset has shifted since her experience at NBNI last year.

    "I don't get like that anymore," she said. "I love to race now and it's very different."

    So what changed?

    "It takes so much belief and confidence in yourself, but I go back and look at my training and look at exactly what workouts I'm doing," she said. "If I'm hitting these times in practice, there's no reason why I can't do it when I get out there to race. The other thing I've focused on is falling in love with the day-to-day process of what it takes to be at my best."

    St. John Kletter's parents, Erin St. John and Todd Kletter -- the former an indoor All-American at Penn State in the 1990s and the latter a PIAA state champion for Mount Lebanon just as long ago -- both competed for Penn State. Their experiences in the sport have helped to keep St. John Kletter grounded and focused.

    "It's great because there's a lot I can learn from them," she said. "Their biggest message is to give it my all and to take my career as far as I can."

    Heading into the season, St. John Kletter had a few goals for her final year of high school competition.

    She completed her cross country bucket list: win a state title and qualify for Foot Locker Nationals. 

    Indoors, St. John Kletter is aiming for PRs in the mile and the 3,200m, with her sights set on breaking the Pennsylvania state record of 10:00.45, held by Jenna Mulhern (West Chester Henderson).

    She also wants finish as an All-American at New Balance Nationals Indoor, although she and her coach have yet to decide on which events she plans to focus on.

    "This is my senior year, and I don't want to waste another moment," St. John Kletter explained. "I want to approach every meet knowing that I have nothing more to prove. In the past, I've done things for external rewards, or for other people. But now I'm just doing it for myself, because I love it. And I want to see how good I can become."

    Photo Credit: Dan Loughlin/MileSplit

    What's Up Next: 

    St. John Kletter will have the next opportunity to test herself against a strong field in the junior girls International Mile at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston on Feb. 4.