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A True Champion for Christ

April 8, 2013
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Khristina Kanagy is pictured here winning the women's 1,500-meter run at the Liberty Collegiate Invitational for the second year in a row.

Standing at 5-2, Khristina Kanagy may be one of the smallest competitors on the track, but she is not about to let that stop her.  A Boone, N.C. native, Kanagy has enjoyed a successful running career at Liberty.  Competing on the cross country and indoor and outdoor track & field teams, Kanagy is a seven- time All-Big South honoree and captured the 2012 Big South indoor 5K title.

A star lacrosse player at Watauga High School, Kanagy was as surprised as anyone when she decided to join Liberty's cross country/track & field program.  "Lacrosse was second nature to me," she explained. "I lived and breathed lacrosse, but there was something different about cross country that was refreshing and life-giving."  Kanagy started running to stay in shape for lacrosse but it soon became something she enjoyed.  Kanagy felt the Lord's hand on her life and knows that He guided and directed her to join the Lady Flames.

Over her first three seasons at Liberty, Kanagy grew very close to Jennifer Klugh, a former Lady Flames standout runner.  Kanagy said that they were not just roommates, but as close as sisters.  Kanagy credits Klugh for her success and leadership, as Klugh was an example on and off the track.  Klugh ended a stellar collegiate track & field career last May, making this season a first for Kanagy without Klugh. 

"It was hard without her, not just for me but for everyone on the track team," Kanagy said.  "Jenn was everyone's friend. Her personality just welcomes and loves everyone.  It was an adjustment coming back and not having her present, but I think it was good. The girls needed to be pushed to step up.  This semester has been a time for me to step up as well."

Kanagy views running as a team sport and feels that she has a big, loving support system she can fall back on.  In October 2012, Kanagy unexpectedly lost her father Jim and went home to Ohio to be with her family.  Klugh, along with other teammates, drove to Ohio to encourage and support Kanagy through her difficult time.  Just two and a half weeks later, Kanagy returned to the cross country course and took seventh place at the Big South Conference meet, helping the Lady Flames win the team title. 

When asked what sustained her and helped her push through such a difficult time, Kanagy stated, "My faith is the only thing that gets me through the day. No person can heal me or speak life and healing into my life except for God. God is holding me and He is not letting go even when I want to."  When she is struggling, Kanagy focuses on 2 Timothy 2:13 which states, "If we are faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself."

Three of Kanagy's All-Big South honors have come during her senior season, including two runner-up performances (indoor 3K and 5K) along with the seventh-place finish in the cross country. 

Kanagy described her senior season to date in the following manner, "I think it has gone really well for my circumstances. I did not even think I was going to make it this far at the beginning of the semester. All I knew was that I was going to be a part of this track team, but if all I could do for the team is be an encourager then it would have to be enough." 

Kanagy is a health promotions major and is on track to graduate this May.  After graduation, she will be taking a year off from school to spend much-needed time with her family in Ohio.  Kanagy has a passion for ministry and missions which has led her to apply for an international internship with the Samaritan's Purse. 

"My plan is to just walk faithfully and run through every open door I get. It is scary and sad to leave Liberty and the track team behind, but I am so excited for a new chapter of my life."

Written by Danny Smith, an intern in the Liberty University Athletics Communications office