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Foreign exchange grad student leads Iowa women’s cross-country

BY LEVI LYNOTT | OCTOBER 26, 2012 6:30 AM

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Mareike Schrulle’s loyalty and faith is what brought her to Iowa. And not just her own, but also the loyalty and faith that head coach Layne Anderson had in her.

During the recruiting process that brought Schrulle to Iowa, she suffered an injury in her foot that eventually needed surgery.

“I was injured before I came here, and [Coach Anderson] didn’t even say anything about it,” Schrulle said. “He said ‘I trust you, and you have the ability to be a good runner.’ ”

Anderson noted that recruiting Mareike — a native of Arnsburg, Germany — was outside of the ordinary pool of recruits that the program has been accustomed to.

“She’s not a typical story. We didn’t recruit her to come to Iowa from high school,” Anderson said.

“She didn’t come here with four years [of eligibility,] she came here with two, and she arrived with a pretty significant injury.”

But Schrulle, who placed 10th-overall at the Big Ten meet last year, worked hard not only in practice but also in the training room in order to reach her potential.

“Over the summer, she got her surgery [on her foot], and she would be in the training room for three or four hours in the morning,” teammate and roommate Megan Ranegar said. “And then go back in the afternoon — nobody does that.”

The work ethic Schrulle embodies comes from her natural love for cross-country and the team atmosphere that comes with the sport. Her running career began at age 16, when she competed in a road race and caught the eyes of club coaches. In Germany, teenagers compete for clubs, not their high schools or universities.

“It turned out I was good,” Schrulle said.

But her love for the sport had only begun, she said.

“Being good at something gives you some added motivation, I think,” she said.

That attitude of running solely for the nature of the sport and competition has rubbed off onto her teammates, who have enjoyed Schrulle’s presence.

“She has had performances this year that I haven’t seen from anyone else at Iowa, but it’s her demeanor and attitude that has affected us the most,” Ranegar said. “This year, I am super lucky to be able to live with her — as an athlete but also as a friend and a person.”

Last season, Schrulle had some high finishes in her first season at Iowa. But what onlookers didn’t understand was that she wasn’t running within her full set of capabilities.

“Last year, I was suffering with an injured ankle and had to cross-train every day,” she said. “This year, I’m healthy and get to run every day; I’m in way better shape.”

Schrulle has set her personal bests this season with a sub-20 minute run in the 6,000 meter at the Wisconsin Invitational — a large meet that provides nationally ranked competition. This time should raise the eyebrows of conference competitors.

“Her performances this season make her one of the favorites to win the Big Ten,” Anderson said.

“There are probably five or six girls who will have a legitimate chance to win that race — it’s just a matter of the execution over the 20 minutes on the course.”

The Big Ten meet could be the last time that Schrulle races for the Hawkeyes — unless she’s able to qualify for NCAA Midwest Regional on Nov. 9.  Her teammates don’t want the running trail that connects them to her to end.

“We may never put on a uniform for Iowa again [after this weekend],” Ranegar said. “That’s when it gets emotional.”


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