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Ex-Hawks Marchand and Nukuri still hope track leads to Olympics

BY PATRICK RAFFERTY | JULY 09, 2009 7:21 AM

The Fourth of July showers, and the economy for that matter, made for a slow weekend. However, two former Hawkeye athletes, who couldn’t be slowed in the past, aren’t planning on doing so any time soon.

Ex-Hawkeye All-Americans Racheal Marchand and Diane Nukuri placed 1-2 in the Alliant Energy 8K in Cedar Rapids last weekend, but they look at that as only stepping stones for their careers.

Marchand has been spending her time training, competing, and keeping herself busy running numerous races around the United States. Her recent success was noticed during the USA Track and Field championships in Eugene, Ore.

“I’m running for Asics. I ran for Asics at the USAs in Eugene. The Asics reps were there, and they were really impressed with how young I am and how I did,” the 23-year-old said. “They want to sign me on to be one of their new athletes. I’m going to be running for them now, and I’m signing with them in a few months.”

One thing that may have been even more of a boost of confidence for Marchand was placing sixth in the 5K at the USA meet, only seconds away from making the team.

“I was so close to making it this year, when I walked off the track I was really bummed out and discouraged, but it just motivates me to get back there next year and to be able to make the team,” Marchand said. “I was happy, though, because I am so young and to be able to get sixth place, it was a really good ending to my outdoor season.”

Marchand also recently got a job at a pharmaceutical company near her hometown of Valparaiso, Ind. She feels this is also a great opportunity for her, and feels like she could balance it all.

“It’s unique for someone to have a full-time career and be a professional athlete. I’m the type of person where I feel like I can do it,” Marchand said. “I’m really self-motivated. And I feel like I can do a good job with this company and still get my training where it needs to be. I’ll put in the work.”

However, she has her sights on bigger things.

“I think with all professional runners, their goal is to make the Olympics,” she said. “I hope in three years to make the Olympic team.”

Nukuri is in a similar position — she also has her sights set on the Olympics.

“I’m just doing it because I love it. I think if I keep working for a couple years, hopefully, I can rebuild and run faster and get better,” she said.

Nukuri has been training hard in the Iowa City area. While she isn’t as fortunate to have a sponsor yet, that is where her eyes are set.

“I think it’s everyone’s goal to get sponsorships, where you get clothes and shoes,” she said. “I don’t have that yet, but I’m working on it. I’m just being really patient and putting in a lot of good work, and one of those days, I’ll get a really good opportunity.”

Iowa women’s cross-country and track and field head coach Layne Anderson was sincere when describing what kind of effect Marchand and Nukuri had on the Iowa program.

“Both Racheal and Diane have been extremely important to our resurgence as a national level cross-country and distance program,” he said. “You would not find two more committed individuals with regard to the sacrifices they have made and continue to make for their running.”

Anderson is also among those who believe these former Hawkeyes are headed for the bigger and better things.

“It is not outside anyone’s comprehension to envision both on the starting line in London in 2012,” he said.


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