Tosic’s Hawkeye career off to odd start

After a successful high school career, the freshman runner is ready to make her mark as Hawkeye.



Runners compete in the mile run premier during the Black and Gold Invitational at the University of Iowa Recreation Building on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. Grace Rowan of Eastern Illinois led the field with a time of 4:56.26.

Lauren Swanson, Sports Reporter

This fall has not gone exactly as freshman cross country and track runner Kelli Tosic had envisioned.

Starting her career as a collegiate runner in the midst of a pandemic has made things less than ideal. The Big Ten Conference voted to postpone all fall sports to a later date on Aug. 11 – including cross country.

Tosic came to Iowa riding a tidal wave of momentum following a successful high school career.

A native of Grayslake, Illinois, Tosic made her mark on Grayslake North High School’s cross country team. She finished 14th at the state cross country meet in 2018 and third at the Northern Lake County Conference meet in 2019.

She also placed first in the 800m and 3200m at the conference’s indoor track championship in 2019. She manufactured a second-place finish in the 3200m in the conference’s 2019 outdoor championships.

Tosic was a seven-time all-conference selection, a four-time state qualifier, and Grayslake North High School’s 2020 Female Athlete and Scholar of the Year.

Photo of Kelli Tosic. Contributed.

Despite her success, Tosic knows that she needs to elevate her running to new heights whenever collegiate running resumes in the Big Ten.

“The level of commitment in college is much different than in high school,” Tosic said. “In college, you can tell everyone just wants to get better at running.”

So far, Tosic has made the necessary adjustments to succeed at the collegiate level.

“Kelli has adjusted very, very well,” associate cross country coach Randy Hasenbank said. “She is really mature and comes from a family who are into the sport. She has a very good understanding of running.”

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Initially, Hasenbank had his squad on an irregular workout regimen to fit the pandemic landscape. That has since changed.

“We have moved back to regular practices and our normal routine,” Hasenbank said. “We just recently had an intrasquad race to encourage team bonding and competition to get them back into racing without meets.”

Tosic has fit right in with her teammates and coaching staff. She believes she already has a strong bond with both.

“All of our coaches are absolutely wonderful people,” Tosic said. “The whole cross country team sometimes has Zoom meetings in order for us to try to stay in touch as a team when we are not together. Most of the older cross country girls reach out to the younger athletes on the team and ask if they need rides to class. Everyone is good about staying connected and being good resources.”

Tosic and her teammates are now focused on staying in shape both independently and as a team ahead a spring cross country season. The NCAA announced on Sept. 23 that men’s and women’s cross country could begin competing Jan. 23, with championships to be held March 15.

To this point, the NCAA has not made a formal announcement about the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons. However, the NCAA has noted that there was concern within its membership about cramming the cross country season, indoor track and field season, and outdoor track and field season all into one semester.