Rachel Kempf: Headed to the finish line


Jose Juarez

Proceeds from the Golden Grizzlies 5k/10k Run & Walk will support OU’s Cross Country and Track & Field programs.

Cross-country runner Rachel Kempf has a bright future ahead of her. A graduate student majoring in accounting, she is making her way up to her dream job, with a desire to get an auditing role at a top accounting firm. 

She first began her love for running back in middle school.

“The running community where I’m from in Saginaw, Michigan is pretty big,” Kempf said. “We had a lot of good, good coaches throughout middle school and high school. My sister got involved in running, so that kind of led me to get involved in running [too,] and I loved it. I loved the people that came with it. I love the aspect of running — the sport was amazing, so I just kept to it.” 

Kempf is dedicated to her student-athlete lifestyle, as well. Even with her late classes, she still manages to get up bright and early in the morning, making sure she’s fueled properly before their two-to-three-hour practice.

Kempf briefly explained her different approaches to her health during the cross-country season. 

“Having a healthy lifestyle is more than just eating right and training,” Kempf said. “It’s also all about sleeping and making sure you’re balancing out everything in your life. Even a social life, even your mental health — I think you’re just finding that good balance. That’s how you’re going to stay healthy.”  

Her dedication has helped her throughout her training and contributed to her success — which includes receiving The First Team All-Horizon League (top seven for cross-country) and receiving the Horizon League Runner of the Week Award a couple of times.

“A lot of it really comes from teammates,” Kempf said on how she stays motivated. “I think teammates really help you, especially when you’re not having a great day — either a great day during a race or a great day during a workout. I think my teammates have always given me a positive mindset, a positive outlook on things.”

A special day to share with coaches, teammates and family came during her sophomore year in 2019, when the Oakland cross-country team won the Horizon League Championships.

“It was a special year,” she said. “The previous year we were kind of expected to win, and it didn’t work out our way that day. The next year, we came back with a goal in mind, we came ready to race and we executed it that well, so we came home with the championship trophy and some rings.”

She enjoys being a Golden Grizzly. In particular on the academic side of things are the people she looks up to, such as the faculty members who have given her a great outlook on her future endeavors.

“They’ve led me in the right direction, they’ve supported me and helped me grow as a person,” Kempf said. “I can see a difference between my freshman self to my grad student self.”