Laura A. Kunak ’99
Cross Country, Track & Field
Inducted in 2019
Brave, courageous and a great teammate. These are the words which describe Laura Kunak. This cross country, middle and long distance track athlete was the cornerstone of the Falcons’ success from 1995-99. She collected 12 varsity letters and garnered six major awards for excellence, leadership and sportsmanship.
As a ninth grader, Laura helped produce elite performances, teaming up with Katherine Hollis ’94, Mitka Hayes ’96 and Kate Dorr ’98 to compete in the distance medley relay at the National Scholastic Indoor Championships in Boston, Mass. That spring, Laura met the stringent national qualifying standard for the mile run and competed at the Outdoor National Championships in Raleigh, N.C.
A chance meeting led Laura to Peddie. In early September 1995, Jerry Hart and the Peddie girls’ cross country team ran the Cranbury Day 5K race. Catching the attention of the Peddie contingent, Laura Kunak was first high school girl to cross the finish line. One thing led to another, and Laura enrolled at Peddie the following week. Soon after, she celebrated her first win at Cadwalader Park in Trenton, and four years later the team posted its 40th dual-meet victory against just nine losses.
When she graduated from Peddie in 1999, Laura held the school records in the 800 meters, 1,600 and 3,200 races – both indoor and outdoor. Twenty years later, Laura’s name still graces the track and field record board as a member of the 4 x 400, sprint medley, and distance medley relay teams. Laura was a five-time Mid-Atlantic Prep League Champion, a four-time Mercer County Champion (including back-to-back cross country titles in 1996 and 1997) and a 13-time Prep State Champion.
After Peddie, Laura attended Jacksonville University as a Marine option Navy ROTC, and she competed for the Dolphins. Laura completed her service as a Marine Corps Military Police. She is still an active runner – rising at 4:00 a.m. to get in a run before the Texas heat sets in.
When asked to recount her favorite Peddie running memories, Laura said two instances stood out. “The indoor Mercer County Championships – that’s when I ran my fastest indoor mile (5:12) which broke the school record. I received two gold medals and the MVP of the meet. The other was my very last race I competed in for Peddie. I ran the 1,200 leg of the distance medley relay, timed in 3:45. It was a good run to end on.”
One of the more gritty competitors that always laid it on the line, Laura is arguably the best female distance runner in Peddie’s history.