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Sophomore harrier considered a rising star

BY MICHELE DANNO | OCTOBER 07, 2009 7:20 AM

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Despite being female, Iowa sophomore harrier Brooke Eilers started her running career competing against guys.

She has come a long way since then, placing first for the Iowa women’s cross-country team at the Wisconsin Invitational on Oct. 3.

She was too advanced to practice with the women’s team as a prep at Holland Christian High School in Michigan, so she trained with the boys. In turn, she earned attention from Division-I scouts and coaches.

Iowa head coach Layne Anderson was one of the recruiters who recognized Eilers’ talents. He said he was impressed with both her running and her attitude.

“She’s a quality person,” he said. “When I first met her in the recruiting class, I was very impressed with her maturity. We hit it off right away, and I knew she’d be a tremendous addition to our team on all fronts.”

As a freshman at Iowa, Eilers finished second for the Hawkeyes at the 2008 Pre-National meet, setting a personal best with a time of 21:06 in the 6-kilometer race.

But her journey to the top has not been easy. Throughout her high-school and collegiate careers, she has faced some setbacks.

She blames her leg injuries during high school on training with the men’s team, saying she “pounded herself into the ground” by running with the squad because she never had time to recover.

The injuries followed her into college, too. During her freshman season, she was redshirted during the indoor track season because of an Achilles tendon injury.

And after the outdoor season, her problems grew more severe, forcing Eilers to sit out for the entire summer.

Despite not training, however, Eilers led the Hawkeye pack in Wisconsin last weekend with a time of 17:30 in the 5-kilometer race — the first time she ended an event on top for Iowa.

Cocaptain Hannah Roeder said Eilers’ passion and dedication make her one of the Hawkeyes’ most consistent runners.

“Brooke is someone who puts all her effort into training,” Roeder said. “Every day, she is someone you can count on to go, and train smart, and prepare herself to do the best she can for the team. She will definitely be successful for the rest of this season and throughout her career.”

Although Anderson and Eilers’ teammates consider the youngster a “rising star,” the beginning of her running career developed somewhat haphazardly.

Eilers said she didn’t join her high school’s cross-country team until sophomore year, and she only joined because her friends ran for the team.

Later, she was the only one to be recruited to compete in college.

Eilers said she didn’t originally plan to come to Iowa. However, her last-minute decision to become a Hawkeye pleased her parents, both of whom are Iowa alumni.

“I had my heart set on Wake Forest,” Eilers said. “I decided to come here after an open recruiting weekend. When I came and fell in love with it, I realized I’m a Midwest girl at heart.”


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