Weum powers through uncertainty

The senior isn’t sure what lies ahead of her both this spring and beyond.


David Harmantas

University of Iowa Sophomore, Aly Weum, competes in the 400 meter dash preliminaries during the second day of the Big Ten Track and Field Outdoor Championships at Cretzmeyer Track on Saturday, May, 2019. Weum placed tenth in the 400 meter dash preliminaries.

Lauren Swanson, Sports Reporter

In what might be her last season as a Hawkeye runner, senior Aly Weum has gone through her most atypical year so far.

On Aug. 11, the Big Ten Conference postponed all fall sports to the spring. The league later amended its stance and allowed its 14 football teams to compete while its other fall sports teams remained in limbo.

The conference’s decision is particularly problematic for Weum, as her and many other athletes run cross country in the fall and track in the spring. On Sept. 23, the NCAA announced a Jan. 23 start date with a March 15 championship for cross country. In that same announcement, the NCAA noted that its membership had expressed concerns about conducting the outdoor cross country and indoor track and field seasons simultaneously.

“I was surprised about the state the country was in,” Weum said. “It is very difficult for cross country to not have races in the fall. That leaves cross country open for winter and indoor track. Cross country has had to deal with the pandemic a bit differently. Whatever happens will result in some sort of sacrifice.”

Weum and her fellow runners have been preparing during the vacant fall season for whatever might be in store for them next semester.

“During the fall this season, we have been doing a lot of mimic races,” Weum said. “I fell short of racing in the spring races, but they were replicated in the fall. Recently, we have been doing more time trials to ensure we show up to track meets in the spring as prepared as possible.”

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Assistant track and field coach Jason Wakenight has also been doing his best to keep Iowa’s runners healthy, in-shape, and motivated this fall.

“We have been practicing full time running and lifting since mid-August,” Wakenight said. “We have been sticking to our typical practice schedule and doing our best to stay socially distanced and on track for a successful season.”

Wakenight has been coaching Weum since she began her Hawkeye career in 2017.

“When Aly first arrived, she was unsure of herself as a runner,” the coach said. “The Big Ten is the best conference in the country and you don’t always have a clear path to the top, but she refused to give up and had a breakthrough sophomore season. Aly has grown so much since stepping on campus, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what she does by the end of the spring.”

He went on talk about Weum’s role as a leader.

“Aly has been a terrific teammate and has played a big role in the growth of our long sprints and mid-distance program,” Wakenight said. “Aly is a fierce competitor and I think that she has helped set the bar really high for our incoming freshman class. She has helped mentor a lot of the young girls on the team, things can get pretty rough at times as a freshman athlete, but she’s shared her experiences, cared for others, and become a leader in the process.”

Weum’s advice for the freshman she leads is simple and has been amplified since the start of the pandemic: Don’t take anything for granted.

“With my experience here at Iowa, it is important to know that no race is guaranteed,” Weum said. “You have to take advantage of the race you are in and put the best version of yourself out there on the track.”