Since she was a little girl, Dublin Scioto High School senior Katie Papesh dreamed of playing Division I college basketball.

Since she was a little girl, Dublin Scioto High School senior Katie Papesh dreamed of playing Division I college basketball.

But at the conclusion of her eighth-grade basketball season, Davis Middle School basketball coach Matt Suttle convinced Papesh to join Davis' track and field and later the Scioto cross country team as a freshman.

Suttle's persistence has paid dividends for Papesh. She made a verbal commitment to run cross country and track at Georgia State on March 30 and she signed a letter of intent on April 18.

"Running in college never even crossed my mind until last summer, so this feels like a dream," Papesh said. "I had spent so much time on basketball that I never thought this would be possible. I'm so excited about this opportunity."

Even though Papesh was Scioto's No. 1 cross country runner as a freshman, she didn't take the sport seriously. She didn't run track as a freshman or sophomore. She split her time running track and playing travel basketball as a junior after Suttle was hired as Scioto's girls track and field coach last year.

"She has become everything that a college program would want to have," Suttle said. "Beyond her dedication to training, she has also become a total student of the sport."

Papesh wasn't heavily recruited by Division I college basketball coaches, so she dedicated herself to running more miles in the summer.

Much to her surprise, Papesh began receiving Division I cross country and track scholarship offers after running a personal-best time of 18 minutes, 58 seconds during her senior cross country season.

She was close to making a verbal commitment to Iowa, before taking an official visit to Georgia State on March 26.

Georgia State is coached by Chris England, who was hired on March 16, after coaching the Murray State women's cross country team the previous three seasons.

The Panthers finished eighth (188 points) in the Colonial Athletic Association Championship meet on Oct. 31.

"I was set on going to Iowa, but coach England had recruited me at Murray State and I really liked him even though his (former) school wasn't a good fit for me," Papesh said. "Once I got to Georgia State, I knew it was the right school for me. The girls were really nice and they have a lot of common interests with me, like cooking."

Papesh is hoping to break 5:15 in the 1,600 to qualify for the Division I state meet.

She also wants to help Scioto's 3,200 relay place in the top eight in the state meet, after she was part of Scioto's 3,200 relay, which finished 15th at state in a program-record 9:31.34 a year ago.

Considering how little Papesh has trained in previous years, Suttle said she has the potential to become much stronger and faster in college.

"Whether it is nutrition or injury prevention, everything she does revolves around making herself into the best runner she can be," Suttle said. "Georgia State is lucky to have her and is going to get a great girl for the next four years.