The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa women’s hurdlers realize friendship is ‘about more than track’

The event group’s chemistry directly translates to success on the track.
Grace Smith
Iowa’s Natalie Harris and Katie Petersen hug Paige Magee after she placed first in the women’s 60-meter hurdles and set a personal and meet record time of 8.07 during the Jimmy Grant Alumni Invitational at the Hawkeye Indoor Track Facility on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023. The Hawkeyes hosted Western Illinois and Wisconsin, competing in events including the pentathlon, weight throwing, field events, and various running events at the indoor track.

Each time an Iowa women’s track and field hurdler’s spike crosses the finish line, she has a group of teammates eager to congratulate her.

Though their relationships began on the track, the hurdles squad quickly found their training partners to become some of their best friends. Some may assume their friendship depends on track and field, but the hurdles group argues it is built on something more.

“Our bond off the track, at the foundation of it, is a lot of love,” second-year Natalie Harris said.

As built-in competitors, friendship within the hurdles squad doesn’t hinder their fierce spirit on the track. Instead, it fosters growth within the group and helps them enjoy their training sessions.

“The girls definitely make it easy to look forward to practice,” second-year hurdler Ellie Rickertsen said.

“We go head-to-head, but we still know that those are the people who are going to have your back and be in your corner no matter what,” first-year Ali Frandsen added.

Even after off-season training, intense lifting workouts, injury recovery, and long meets, the hurdles squad never seems tired of each other. They even find extra time outside of track and field to be together.

Harris recalls hosting the hurdles squad at her house for football watch parties and trying out new restaurants in their free time. Fourth-year Paige Magee remembers killing time between meet events by talking to the hurdles squad.

“It feels so organic,” Magee said. “I’ve been here for four years, and we’re so much closer this year than I’ve experienced in the past.”

This close-knit bond directly translates to success in races. The highlight of the indoor hurdles season so far has been Magee’s school record of 8.00 in the 60-meter hurdles.

“That was one of my favorite moments,” fourth-year Katie Petersen said of Magee’s record-breaking race. Rickertsen recalls physically feeling the success of her teammate.

“[Frandsen] and I were warming up on the side for the 4×400, and I had full-body chills,” she said.

Magee remembers breaking the record, but the most memorable part of the race came after. Though she knew she ran well, she didn’t have a chance to check her record-breaking time before she was engulfed in hugs from her best friends.

Iowa Director of Track and Field Joey Woody said the women’s hurdle squad is paving the way to reach the Hawkeyes’ goal of a cohesive team culture.

“This year, they are growing closer and closer together not just within their group, but the whole team,” Woody said.

Magee agreed with her coach, noting that individual events such as hurdles still require a team bond.

“We’re not passing the baton to each other,” she said. “We’re not playing basketball, so we don’t need on-court chemistry. But there is still a chemistry that shows in us in meets.”

Despite the records, conference honors, and Division I rankings the hurdles group has earned, they recognize the most valuable part of their Iowa track and field experience cannot be measured by seconds and records.

“It’s about more than track,” Rickertsen said. “It’s about the relationships we are building, and the success just follows with that.”

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About the Contributors
Mia Boulton
Mia Boulton, Sports Reporter
Mia Boulton is a freshman at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism & Mass Communication, as well as exploring a possible double major in Sports Media. She works at the Daily Iowan as a sports reporter. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Mia has been a photographer for her hometown newspaper, The Record.
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.