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Women’s cross-country captain leading once again

BY MICHELE DANNO | NOVEMBER 04, 2009 7:20 AM

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Jennie Docherty’s parents both ran for Iowa. Her father was an All-American who still holds Iowa track records. Her mother was the only woman to ever qualify and finish six-consecutive Olympic trials.

So it’s no surprise Docherty followed in her parent’s amazingly fast footsteps when she joined the Iowa women’s cross-country team and ascended to the role of captain.

What makes Docherty’s case so unusual is that the fifth-year senior started her career as a Division-I runner without any prior cross-country miles beneath her feet.

“She didn’t have the same background and training as the other [women]”, said head coach Layne Anderson. “But with her genetic pool, her potential was pretty significant.”

Docherty, 22, just shrugs off the feat.

“Both my parents were runners,” she said. “I had my best success in [middle-distance] high-school track, so I knew I wanted to run in college.”

That’s not to say she hasn’t faced a number of challenges during her tenure on the team. While she’s worn the Black and Gold for five years, myriad injuries have held her back.

Because of problems with her calf muscles, tendons, and iron intake, she’s only been able to compete for two seasons.

Fortunately for Docherty, these injuries appear to be old news this season. She is back in her running shoes, competing on the course, and mentally leading her team.

“I hope that I was chosen as captain because of my hard work over my career,” Docherty said. “I think it came because of my dedication and persistence over time.”

Jennie Docherty’s father, Jim Docherty, radiates with pride about his daughter’s ability to overcome running challenges that he knows all too well.

Jim Docherty said his daughter’s career at Iowa mirrors his own in that neither were able to compete for four-consecutive years because of injuries. But he said Jennie Docherty is “a fighter.”

“I think both Jennie’s mom and I have had those moments in our careers where you question whether you should keep going or not,” Jim Docherty said. “But if you get through it, you become a little tougher and there’s a little more fight in you.”

Despite not leaving Iowa with the same level of success as her parents, Jennie Docherty said her hard work was well worth it.

Last weekend, she was selected as the ninth runner in her first Big Ten meet for the Hawkeyes.

Although she finished last for Iowa, she was excited to have this opportunity before she graduated.

“It was really exciting for me to see my progression,” the Minnesota native said. “I didn’t place as high as everyone else, but it was an accomplishment for where I had come from.”


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