Senior Gabby Skopec reflects on past seasons as a Hawkeye runner

Skopec highlights how this season stacks up against her previous years as a Hawkeye.


Jenna Galligan

Iowa distance runner Gabby Skopec competes in the women’s 3000m run during the Hawkeye Invitational at the University of Iowa Recreation Building on Saturday, Jan 11, 2020. Skopec earned second with a time of 10:10.25.

Lauren Swanson, Sports Reporter

This season has definitely not been what senior Gabby Skopec had in mind for her last year as a Hawkeye runner.

The Big Ten Conference voted to postpone all fall sports to a later date on Aug. 11 — cross country included. The conference later amended its original stance, allowing its 14 football teams to compete this fall while the other sports remain in limbo.

So, there won’t be any races for Skopec to run this fall.

A native of Coralville, Skopec honed her athletic talents early in her high-school career at Iowa City West.

She was the Mississippi Valley Conference Cross Country Athlete of the Year, and a two-time first team all-conference honoree. She also placed fourth at the Iowa state cross country meet and was named team MVP twice.

Despite her extremely successful high school career, Skopec always knew she wanted to move on to bigger and better things.

Skopec continued to find success as a runner post-high school at the University of Iowa.

Throughout her college career, Skopec has achieved a number of notable feats. She placed 20th in her first collegiate event at the Hawkeye Invitational, and finished 18th at the Mayflower Day Open in 2017.

She also manufactured a second-place finish in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the Tom Botts Invitational and placed fourth in the three-mile at the Bradley Intercollegiate Championships in 2018.

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In 2019, Skopec competed at the Notre Dame Invitational.

COVID-19 has put a hold on Skopec’s long run of success, but the unique circumstances haven’t clipped her drive, motivation, and passion for running.

“Training has been similar to what it usually is,” Skopec said. “Workouts replace the meets, and we have been doing more time trials too.”

Skopec’s teammates have also helped make this season feel as normal as possible for her.

“It has been tough because we can’t do as much in-person stuff,” Skopec said. “We try to stay in touch over the season with Zoom calls with the team.”

Head cross country coach Randy Hasenbank has been impressed with Skopec’s mentality during this most unusual fall.

“She has really turned it on,” Hasenbank said. “She is very focused and has put everything out there, since it’s her last year. She is fairly quiet but has the confidence to work hard and isn’t afraid to do so. She really sets the standard for other athletes on the team.”

With the cross-country season coming to an end, Skopec has begun to prepare for a potential track season this spring.

“Cross country ends in early November,” Skopec said. “The workouts for track are typically shorter, and a lot more interval workouts.”

The NCAA announced on Sept. 23 that cross country could begin competing Jan. 23, with championships on March 15. The NCAA noted that part of its membership has raised concerns about conducting the cross country and track and field seasons simultaneously, however, as runners competing in both sports could easily get burnt out, injured, or more.