Christina Wankum’s high school athletic career unfortunately has been star-crossed, but now there’s a chance she might be a star.
The McPherson High senior on Tuesday signed to run cross country and track and field for Emporia State next season.
Wankum was a budding star as a freshman. She started her fall at Manhattan High School, where she took eighth in the 6A state cross country meet.
Shortly after she moved to McPherson and made an immediate impact, qualifying for the state track and field meet in both the 1,600 and 3,200. Her star was burning brightly with best times of 5:29 in the 1,600 and 11:50 in the 3,200.
But over the next three years, it was mostly frustration for Wankum, who was sidelined by numerous ailments. Recently, though, the source of her ailments was finally diagnosed and Wankum began to run like the Wankum of old.
While she didn’t make state this year, she is well on her way back to being the runner that was so highly touted three years ago.
“It was definitely difficult to try and get through everything,” said Wankum, who never gave up hope that someday she would return to her previous level. “In the end, we got things figured out. The end of the season was a great comeback and my team was a great support system as was my family.”
Wankum fell off the radar of college recruiters, but there’s no question if she continues to improve health-wise, she could be a diamond in the rough for the Hornets.
“I feel like this is going to motivate me to do my best,” said Wankum, who said she’s as close to 100 percent as she’s been in four years.
Wankum said she would be training hard over the summer in preparation for her freshman season. Her sister, Lauren, runs for McPherson College.
Wankum said she knew Emporia State was the school for her.
“I loved it when I went and visited,” she said. “The team was great. I got to meet them and the coach.”
“She now has her health back and we’re seeing the old Christina,” MHS track and field coach Jace Pavlovich said. “We’re really excited to see what she can do at Emporia. She could absolutely take off and I have no doubt that she will.”
Wankum is going to major in elementary education.