Senior Karrington Winters runs a relay as a part of the Ohio State track and field team. Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State Athletics

When Karrington Winters crossed the finish line, she was almost in disbelief. As a sophomore, she had just broken the school’s indoor 600-meter run record.

Winters, now a senior on the women’s track and field team, has broken two records at Ohio State, one in the 600-meter run in the Big Ten championships with a time of 1:27.60 and the other as a member of the 4×400-meter relay in the NCAA championships with a time of 3:31.23.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Winters didn’t think she was going to run track.

“I always had aspirations of playing soccer, but it turned out that I started enjoying chasing after the ball a little bit more,” Winters said.

During a family picnic in 2009, Winters raced the boys in her family for the last piece of cake. She beat all of them, and her parents then enrolled her in a track program.

That was the same year that 12-year-old Winters placed third in the 400-meter run at nationals.

The following year, Winters broke the national 800-meter run record, placed first in the 400-meter run and third in the 200-meter dash.

Now, Winters is no stranger to performing on big stages.

In 2016, she was part of the USA 4×400-meter relay team made up of Winters, Lynna Irby, Anna Cockrell and Samantha Watson that ran in Bydgoszcz, Poland, at the IAAF U20 World championships, ultimately taking home gold.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go to another country, especially one like Poland and be able to compete for the USA,” Winters said.

During her freshman year, she was part of the 4×400-meter relay team that broke the school record with a 3:32.88 mark at the indoor Big Ten championship and a second-place finish.

She also took home gold in the 600-meter run at the Ohio State Opener with a time of 1:33.68.

Winters’ success continued through her sophomore year, when she broke the school’s 600-meter run record at the indoor Big Ten championship and won her first career individual conference title.

Winters claimed gold at the Buckeye Tune Up that year in the 400-meter run with a mark of 55.53.

Her sophomore year she ran with Beatrice Hannan, Aliyah Barnes and Maggie Barrie on the 4×400-meter relay team, setting the school record with a time of 3:31.23 at the NCAA Championships. This relay team became the first women’s 4×400-meter relay in Ohio State history to earn First Team All-American honors.

Throughout Winters’ junior outdoor season, she put up a 400-meter run time of 53.15 and advanced to the NCAA championships.

That season she also marked a career-best 400-meter run time of 52.49 and claimed silver on the 4×400-meter relay team with a mark of 3:33.69 at the Big Ten championships.

Competing in meets is just one part of being a student-athlete.

Winters compared being a student-athlete to a job, saying you have to be able to balance your academic, athletic and personal life.

While being a student-athlete, Winters still finds time to be involved in her community with the role of president as she serves on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, which is the voice of student athletes on campus.

“I think [Winters’] leadership is something that she doesn’t ebb for,” Karen Dennis, director of track and field, said. “It’s not the kind of leadership that she tries to impose, it’s the kind of leadership that comes natural.”

As the indoor season comes to an end and outdoor season nears, Winters said she wants to go all out in hopes of making it to nationals and being on the podium in the open 400-meter and 4×400-meter relay during outdoor season.

“I can put numbers on this and say I want to win this accolade, but my biggest thing is that I want to leave a lasting legacy,” Winters said. “It’s easy to just be a number and to just come and go, but for me I actually want to be someone who is remembered by leaving my mark here at this institution.”