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Brittany Brown’s first race as a Hawkeye was one for the books — literally.

The freshman rewrote the record book at the Big Four Duals on Jan. 18, when she broke a 31-year-old Iowa record for the 60 meters. Even more impressive, Brown had never competed indoors before coming to Iowa.

The Upland, Calif., native’s journey began far from the bitter winter temperatures of the Midwest, and it took a visit from assistant coach Clive Roberts to persuade her that Iowa had much more to offer.

“He showed me that Iowa isn’t just a corn field,” Brown said. “I liked it — I loved it here.”

Roberts was able to change Brown’s preconceived notions by exposing her to what the University of Iowa, and Iowa itself, really looked like.

“There’s a vibrant community, the people are great, and it’s safe — it’s a place where you can really grow,” Roberts said. “When Brittany came on her visit, I think that’s what she saw.”

Ranked in the top-five high-school seniors in the nation, a number of colleges recruited Brown, among them universities closer to her home, such as San Diego State. But despite the extra miles, nothing compared with Iowa.

“Iowa City is very diverse, which is welcoming for new students and athletes, and that’s important in the process of choosing a school,” Brown said.

In addition to a unique culture, Iowa offered something else that set it apart from other schools she visited.

“I was looking for someone I could train with, someone who ran faster than me that I could compete with,” Brown said.

She found that in her training partner, sophomore Lake Kwaza. Brown quickly discovered Kwaza was more than just someone to run with.

“She’s definitely a part of my motivation to succeed,” Brown said. “We’re always battling it out to win, but it doesn’t matter who wins first or second — it just matters if we’re getting the points. And if we get the points, then coach is happy.”

The duo has run stride-for-stride throughout the season; only a couple hours after Brown beat the 31-year-old Iowa record, Kwaza finished the 60 meters in the same time, making both of them record holders.

“It’s cool that someone as talented as she is looks to me to bring her along,” Kwaza said. “Even though she’s proven she has the ability to beat me.”

Though the partners continue to compete, they ultimately race for their team, not for themselves.

“At the end of the day, it’s not their names on their chests, it’s I-O-W-A,” Roberts said. “They both want to win, but more importantly, they both want to put Iowa on the map.”

Brown has proven she brings something special to Iowa, and her career has only begun.

“I don’t think at this point she has [exceeded my expectations],” Roberts said. “I think she’s got a lot more in her.”

Though the pressure is on Brown to continue to perform well and beat records, she never questions the reason she came to Iowa.

“This is what I do,” she said. “This is what I love. No doubt about it, I always knew I would run in college.”

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