SE: Former Sprinter Rodriguez Ready for New Competition

Carlos Rodriguez is “taking a break” from his sport and his passion, but he won’t be leaving behind the trait that helped him to success on the track for Kansas State.

Rodriguez, one of the best all-around sprinters in K-State history, joined on with New Student Services at K-State as an admissions representative a few weeks ago. After coming up short of making the Puerto Rico Olympic team this summer, he got an early start with his new position. 

It is a job he is ready to take on with his competitiveness, which he views as one of his strengths.

“Right now, we’re competing against other schools,” Rodriguez said. “We’re trying to recruit as many students as possible.” 

Rodriguez, who competed for K-State from 2012-14, holds the school’s indoor 300-meter dash record. Outdoors, he ranks second in the 200-meter dash, fifth in the 100-meter dash while being on three of the top five K-State 4x100-meter dash teams. 

His time in the sport, he said, has prepared him for the new competition ahead. 

“Track and field is an individual sport, but when I was at K-State, it was about the team,” he said. “I was part of a relay that brings some teamwork and cohesion as a team. Here, I’m working with another team, so I’m using all of my teamwork skills, my leadership skills that I gained from track and field.” 

After completing his undergraduate and master’s at K-State, Rodriguez felt inclined to stay in Manhattan and find a way to give back to the school that’s taught him more than he can remember. 

“It means a lot to me that I can give back to the university, the community, and hopefully recruit as many students as I can,” said Rodriguez, whose recruiting areas will be southwest Kansas, California and Minnesota.

When prospective students listen to Rodriguez’s story, they will hear a firsthand account of how welcoming K-State can be. 

Originally from Carolina, Puerto Rico, Rodriguez spoke very little English before he came to K-State. When he was recruited, however, Mike Smith, then the cross country coach, made Rodriguez feel at ease immediately. 

“He didn’t speak that much Spanish, but he said, ‘I just want to make you feel comfortable, so during all of the recruiting process I’m going to talk to you in Spanish,’” recalled Rodriguez, who is now fluent in English. “I was getting recruited by a couple different schools, and he was the only one that did that.”

Now, it will be Rodriguez looking to bridge the gap between Hispanic students and K-State. In doing so, he will continue to build on Kansas State University’s 2025 goal of being a top 50 public research university by achieving multiple goals within the visionary plan. 

“One of the goals that K-State has is to increase the diversity here on campus. The goal is to have someone who those students can relate to and those students can feel that connection with,” he said. “Since I’m from Puerto Rico and my native language is Spanish, maybe I can relate to those students, make that connection with them and show them a story about a minority student that came to K-State, finished their undergrad and finished their master’s, and now he was lucky enough to get a full-time job here.”

Rodriguez knows the job won’t be easy, however. Again, he plans to lean on his experiences as a student-athlete to help him through any road bumps.

“You got to persevere in this job because sometimes you go on visits and none of the students are even interested in going to your school. Sometimes students are not even paying attention to what you’re talking about,” he said. “In track it’s just like that. Sometimes you have competitions that you don’t perform well and then you have to know how to bounce back and compete at the next track meet.”

If he duplicates the success he had on the track, Rodriguez should be integral in helping add diversity to K-State’s campus. Having lived the experience, one he’ll be trying to sell, Rodriguez said he should have a leg up on the competition. 

“I feel like it’s not going to be too hard because I just have to share my story,” he said. “This is something that I lived and something that I’m going to tell them with passion because I’m proud of all the accomplishments, all of the ups and downs that I experienced here at K-State. I feel like they need to know that.” 

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Corbin McGuire, or K-State Associate AD for Communications Kenny Lannou. To receive the K-State Sports Extra email, sign up here