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No break for tracksters

BY MICHELE DANNO | DECEMBER 17, 2009 7:30 AM

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For the women on the Iowa track and field team, there will be no “break” following the word “winter” in the coming weeks.

The Hawkeyes trained extensively during the fall for their 2010 indoor track season, and team members say they can’t afford lose the results during the hiatus.

“I cannot get out of racing mode when I go home,” senior sprinter Rhonda Trusty said. “Most people are probably relaxing over break, but as athletes, we cannot just say, ‘Oh hey, it’s Christmas. Time to relax,’ because we have to come back and race right away.”

The Ontario native said leaving the United States for the holidays adds extra temptation to lose focus because Iowa “is a lot better in terms of the training environment.”

She is not the only Hawkeye bringing her training regimen to another country. Senior high jumper Caleigh Bacchus will head south for the winter to work out in her home country of Trinidad and Tobago. Not only is she much farther removed from the Iowa training facilities than most of her teammates, she also has the added pressure of needing to find the right equipment.

Because high jumping requires specific equipment, she has to work out a training schedule with her former high-school coaches, who let her use their facilities.

Freshman long and triple jumper Leia Scott said her event is difficult to train for over break as well, because it requires a sand pit. She won’t travel quite so far from campus, though.

Like Bacchus, Scott plans to use resources provided by her former high school in Downers Grove, Ill.

Iowa long and triple jump coach Clive Roberts, who also coaches the sprinters, said the Hawkeye coaches spend a lot of time working out winter-break training for different student-athletes in each of the 21 track and field events.

“Everyone is different,” he said. “It’s my job to educate myself on what each athlete needs to do to properly succeed. Sometimes, we have to be a little creative and adjust the workouts to fit the facilities. If you don’t have a weight room, and you’re supposed to do squats, grab a big rock and do them.”

Each athlete is given a workout packet to use over break, and Roberts trusts the Hawkeyes will follow their blueprints, even without supervision, he said.

Bacchus said that although there is the temptation to trade sleep for practice some days, she would “definitely pay for it” when she gets back to school.

Aside from keeping up a strict practice schedule, the Hawkeyes also can’t forgo other healthy habits. Following a good diet, refraining from drinking alcohol, and getting enough sleep are all high on the priority lists for most of the women.

“I know I’m going to go home, and my mom will have all this good food for me,” Trusty said. “I’ll for sure want to indulge in it, but I have to remember that I don’t want to put on any weight over break. I’m still going to enjoy my Christmas dinner — I’ll just have the success of my season in the back of my head.”

Roberts said the Hawkeyes will have a hard practice on the day of their return, which will help evaluate the women’s progress or regression over break.

In her three years at Iowa, Trusty said, she has managed to maintain her skills training while at home.

For Scott, the added pressure of making the Hawkeyes’ travel squad keeps her motivated, she said.

She doesn’t want to jeopardize her chances by slacking off.

Katie Trudeson, another freshman, said her spot on the travel team is secure because she is one of only two female pole vaulters at Iowa. However, she knows she will have to be ready to compete for the first time at the Division-I level when she returns from break.

Her event is much harder to train for than many. Because pole vaulting is not as common as, say, running, she said, she does not have friends to train with when she goes home. Her training keeps her busy six days a week.

Although the newcomer does not have the freedom of working out wherever she wants, Trudeson said, she signed up for Vault Chicago — an instructive camp for pole vaulters. The event, plus scheduling workouts with her high-school coaches, should keep her in shape for competition, she said.

Roberts is confident that all his student-athletes — no matter where they are from or what event they are training for — will continue to work hard over winter break.

“There’s never a concern that they won’t do the workouts because we teach our [women] that they have to do their part,” Roberts said. “They really understand that what they put in to it is what they’re going to get out.”


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