At the NAIA national track and field meet in Gulf Shores, Ala., last month, Annika Andersen finished 15th overall in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 11 minutes, 27.78 seconds for her final track meet with Oregon Tech.
Andersen is more than an athlete, however. She’s a dedicated student, a member of the group that won Catalyze Klamath 2019, a loving sister, a fiancé, a woman of faith and an inspiration to everyone she meets.
Andersen grew up on a small goat dairy in Baker City, where her mother is in charge of the dairy in addition to being a stay-at-home mom. Her dad works in forestry.
She is the youngest of four, with two older sisters and one older brother.
Her family dynamic has played a significant role in helping Andersen become the person she is today.
Her brother Erik attended Oregon Tech for the CSET program, and when he discovered Andersen was interested in engineering, he recruited her to OIT.
While the school wasn’t the first on her list, it is where she was accepted, and through that series of events she has made strong friendships, met her fiancé (baseball player John Kallstrom), and accomplished many things academically and athletically.
She started with a major in renewable energy engineering, then later added electrical engineering.
She said: “Engineering for power generation interests me because I can’t imagine going a day without power.”
While her brother inspired her academically, her sisters have inadvertently influenced her athletic choices.
Andersen and her two older sisters were involved with 4H growing up, and when asked why she chose steeplechase over any other event, Anderson said: “Growing up, I did a lot of equestrian events, including jumping, so it’s really cool because I’ve always jumped with horses and now I get to do the jumps myself.
“The first day that I ever went on a run was because I was really upset about something, but I didn’t know how to express it. The next day I was so sore I could barely walk, but it was great!”
Even after that, however, she still claimed to hate running. It wasn’t until her senior year of high school that her best friend convinced her to join the cross country team because they didn’t have enough runners to compete in the state meet.
This ended up being a good decision.
In addition to absolutely loving the sport, Andersen qualified for state that same year. At the meet, Anderson recalls sharing a box with and meeting Cindy Reed, who went on to be a part of OIT’s national championship cross country team and is now one of her teammates on the Tech track and cross teams.
Andersen said she and Reed hit it off right off the bat, and their friendship has only grown since they have become teammates.
To Andersen, though, all the girls on her team have become more than just teammates.
“The women that I run with are some of the strongest women. They’re so unique and each one of us adds to the team. Susie (Garza) has overcome so much. Danielle (DeCastro) is persistent. Cindy has had a lot of setbacks with her health and has made amazing strides and accomplishments (in spite of those setbacks),” Andersen said.
“I love my team. I’m so inspired by them. When they have a good day, it feels like I’m having a good day.”
Through the track team, Andersen has also gotten to know Jessica Arrington, who teamed up with her and Ashlei Morgan (who is on the soccer team), for their senior project.
For their project, the three students dedicated their time over the past year to figuring out how to convert plastic into crude oil. They were inspired to do so because in Klamath Falls, most of the plastic that people recycle just ends up in landfills rather than being recycled.
They have made a lot of progress on their project, won Catalyze Klamath, and will be competing in Invent Oregon at the end of this month, but graduation Saturday comes first.
The group has done a lot of networking and has the potential to start up a business in Klamath Falls within the next few years.