Runner Leah Kralovetz made her mark on the cross-country team very early last season. As a freshman, she quickly became a star. She is a leader at both group practices and meets and Kralovetz continues to impress, even during the pandemic.
Kralovetz placed fifth at the Hawkeye Invitational meet last year — finishing just three seconds off the team’s top runner, Megan Schott. Kralovetz also set two personal bests in 2019; once in the 5,000-meter at the Woody Greeno Invitational on Sept. 21, and a second time in the 6,000-meter at the NCAA regional meet on Nov. 15.
Kralovetz has found a great deal of success as an underclassman, thanks in part to her mentality.
“[I’m] not letting any setbacks get in the way of what I could achieve,” Kralovetz said.
With every achievement comes something to improve upon. Kralovetz put her mind to everything she accomplished last season and continues to improve as she seeks to make the most of this year, despite its complications.
“I definitely could have improved on taking the easy days easier because I always seem to want to push the pedal,” Kralovetz said. “I need to give myself grace and know that I don’t have to be the first to finish at the time.”
Despite the challenges that come with COVID-19, Kralovetz has stayed positive — even though the cross-country season was postponed from this fall to the spring. Currently, the women’s cross-country season is slated to begin Jan. 23 and conclude with NCAA Championships March 15.
“I thought it was the best thing to do because I have family members who are more vulnerable,” Kralovetz said. “I just remember thinking the virus will [hopefully] be a blessing in disguise.”
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One thing the pandemic has not halted is Kralovetz’s training, as she focuses on the upcoming spring track and field season.
“We usually do two running workouts a week, tempo runs, fartleks, intervals, and long runs every Sunday,” Kralovetz said. “We have not had as many super intense workouts.”
This coming track and field season will be Kralovetz’s first as a Hawkeye. She missed last year’s campaign because of an injury.
“I was not super prepared coming back with an injury, so the pandemic and virus has allowed me to ease into it,” Kralovetz said.
Although there have not been any physical races this fall, Kralovetz still has no regrets about being a Hawkeye.
“I chose Iowa because I have a strong faith, and God kept telling me to give it a chance,” Kralovetz said. “The campus is far from home, but God kept telling me to give it a chance.”
The Denmark, Wisconsin, native noted that making her college decision proved difficult and that she hesitated to commit to Iowa at first.
Kralovetz attributes her decision, in part, to the recruiting efforts of women’s cross-country head coach Randy Hasenbank.
“Randy always wanted to know when I was in town,” Kralovetz said. “He cares about me more than just being an athlete, but as a person too.”