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‘Rolling’ into the record books

BY MATT SCHOMMER | APRIL 28, 2010 7:30 AM

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Breaking school records isn’t enough for decathlete Dan Rolling. He has to obliterate them.

“Both of them are kind of bittersweet,” the senior said. “I would have liked to smash them more than I did.”

After scoring 6,957 points at the Drake Relays last weekend, a school record, Rolling said he feels he has a lot more firepower to unleash.

Rolling had a great first day of competition at the Drake Relays — he led the field — but it was the second day, and the discus event in particular, that sent him back to eighth place overall.

Now, a high mark of 7,300 points remains his goal.

Iowa head coach, Larry Wieczorek, said he believes Rolling has a legitimate shot at reaching that tall order.

“That’s a challenge that’s not out of sight,” he said. “But you do want a challenge that’s out of reach, so you can stretch yourself to reach it.”

Originally recruited by the Hawkeyes as a high jumper, Rolling has had to make a difficult transition into events he has little experience in, such as the discus and pole vault. Becoming a multi-event athlete stemmed from boredom at competitions.

Rolling said he was sick of traveling for 12 hours and only jumping three times, prompting him and the coaches to figure out a better way to use his athleticism.

Wieczorek said teaching someone who had as little experience as Rolling did in some of the events wasn’t as hard as others.

“The decathlon, for anybody, is a challenge,” he said. “There are 10 different disciplines to master, but the positive is that he really loves it. He wants to do the decathlon, and that part of it makes it easy.”

The Drake Relays — a venue Rolling said he has always felt comfortable in — is only one example of the fruits of his transformation.

“Drake is like a home stadium for me,” he said. “I’ve probably had more meets there than home.”

Drake also represents the first time he made a connection with former Iowa track and field decathlete Ryan Niver.

Niver approached the Milford, Iowa, native during Rolling’s senior year of high school at the Drake Relays. Rolling was a recruit at the time, competing in the high jump.

“That’s where we sort of hit it off,” Niver said. “We had the same build, had some similar backgrounds. We were training partners. We evolved together, I guess.”

Rolling said Niver has always been an important mentor for him. Niver introduced and aided Rolling in a lot of the events he was unfamiliar with because the state of Iowa doesn’t have pole vaulting in high schools. The feat provided the two another shared obstacle to overcome.

But Niver has helped Rolling even more so off the field.

“It’s about keeping your head on straight,” Niver said. “You’re doing so many different things, it takes a lot of focus. Iowa City can be a very distracting place.”

The pair’s bond shares one more especially unique feature. It was Niver’s school record that Rolling broke.

“It’s great,” Niver said. “If I wanted someone to take it down, I’d want it to be him. I couldn’t be happier.”


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