Written by Logan Patton
This piece continues our new Senior Profiles series, highlighting seniors from across all of our intercollegiate sports. Our goal is to make this a regular feature toward the end of each week, and hope you enjoy reading about our student-athletes' incredible journeys, accomplishments and future plans.
For eight years, Stephanie Reynolds has put blood, sweat and tears into running. With injuries cropping up over her collegiate career, she faced the prospect of not being able to achieve her goals in her senior season of track, though she has been able to excel in cross country and her academics. Returning to the track just last week, she overcame that obstacle to win her heat and still set herself up for a successful final season.
Reynolds, who is now a senior, attended Lawton Chiles High School in Tallahassee, Fla. There, she was able to continue her passion for both track and cross country by running for both teams all four years of her high school career.
"I've been interested in track since I was in first grade," Reynolds said. "My family was watching the Olympics on TV, and I caught a glimpse of the men's 100-meter dash. I started track in seventh grade and cross country in eighth grade. I ran on both teams during all four years of high school, and I've run on both the cross country and track teams at Caltech since my freshman year."
Reynolds also balanced out her academics and extracurricular activities in high school, successfully earning her the title of salutatorian in a class of what she estimates to have been about 400 students.
"[Besides running] cross country for a state championship winning team, and track and field for a very competitive team, I invested a lot of time in these sports and still managed to do well in my classes," she said. "I founded my school's chapter of the Science National Honor Society and served as the club's president for two years."
These dual successes gave her the opportunity to choose between two extremely competitive universities to attend after high school. She chose Caltech.
"I was deciding between Caltech and MIT, both of which are great schools," Reynolds said. "I visited both during their preview weekends, and Caltech just seemed like a better fit. The people here are all really friendly, and that creates a very collaborative environment, which I didn't find at MIT."
Reynolds obtained personal bests in cross country this past fall, including a program record 23:00.45 in the 6-kilometer run. Her current personal marks for track are 2:23.92 in the 800-meter run, 4:48.28 in the 1500m, and 18:40.44 in the 5-kilometer, all of which she ran her sophomore year.
Reynolds is also accomplishing big things in the classroom and lab as a chemical engineering major. She has done research every summer since arriving at Caltech, including two SURF (Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship) programs and an internship at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute. Her most recent research has been for her senior thesis.
"My thesis models a three-point bending test on a diatom," Reynolds explained. "From an engineering standpoint, knowing the mechanical properties of the diatom allows us to better re-create their form and function. If you're looking for a strong, porous structure made of silica, why not use one that's already been created in nature!"
Approaching her final term at Caltech, Reynolds has already made plans for the future.
"I'm planning on going to graduate school to obtain a PhD in chemical engineering after graduation," she said. "I'm considering four schools, but right now I'm leaning toward Georgia Tech."
For now, Reynolds will continue to eye the SCIAC Championships on May 1-2.