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Teammates, friends, and competitors

BY KATRINA DO | APRIL 01, 2014 5:00 AM

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Carisa Leacock only had a taste of what it feels like to be a school record holder for seven days. One week after the senior set the Iowa record for the long jump, teammate Zinnia Miller out-jumped it.
That’s what much of their relationship has been like since the two seniors began their track careers at Iowa.

The ongoing competition began during their first fitness testing more than four years ago, when the two arrived on campus. Whenever Leacock finished a test, it seemed as if Miller came up and beat her score.

“I’m like her big sister,” Leacock said. “Seeing me break the record made her want to break it, too.”

This competitive spirit has been a big factor in the seniors’ improvement, along with a change in mindset and harder training. This year was the first time Leacock and Miller both scored at a Big Ten indoor championship meet. Miller had never scored at any Big Ten meet up until last February, and Leacock placed seventh at last year’s Big Ten outdoor championships.

Miller took the first-place title for the long jump at last weekend’s Arizona State Invitational, the first meet of the outdoor season. 

“Both of these ladies have struggled in their careers for a long time, and we’re finally seeing all the hard work they’ve put in over the years,” assistant coach Clive Roberts said.

Coming in as a multi-event specialist, Miller had to make a few adjustments while trying to find a niche, including switching coaches and learning how to work with new groups. However, she has finally found her place as a triple jumper alongside a group that she considers family.

Leacock has also changed her training regimen; instead of practicing almost every day, she trains extra hard on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. She attributes this schedule to the way she used to train in Trinidad, and says she has seen significant improvements since the change.

“This year I came in with a different mindset,” Miller said. “As a senior, I need to leave a legacy.”

Four years ago, the seniors left their homes in the Caribbean to become Hawkeyes, helping each other adapt to change along the way. While they continue to learn from Roberts, the two roommates can still be found teaching each other.

“I told her she should do [the triple jump] since she was beating me in testing, and at first she didn’t want to do it,” Leacock said. “But as a ‘little sister’ she listened to me, and I’m pretty sure she’s happy she did.”


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