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

The bridge between athletic success and personal sacrifice

Iowa track and field athletes share their stories of sacrificing time and relationships for athletic success.
Grace Smith
Iowa’s Mariel Bruxvoort prepares to race the women’s 4x400m during the 2023 Hawkeye Invitational at the University of Iowa Recreation Building in Iowa City on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2022. Bruxvoort’s team placed first with a time of 3:38.28. The Hawkeye Invitational hosted Ball State, Bradley, Indian Hills, Iowa, Iowa Central, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Western Illinois, Wis.-River Falls, and unattached individuals.

 Iowa track and field athletes make the conscious decision to sacrifice personal relationships, time with family, and educational experiences every day.

And it’s all for the sake of the sport.

The Hawkeye Indoor Track and Field Facility, located northwest of Kinnick Stadium, is a second home for many athletes.

“I’ll get to the facility at 10:30 a.m. to see the trainers, then a three-hour practice, a lift following, and then treatment or a massage after,” fourth-year hurdler Mariel Bruxvoort said. “On those big days, I am at the facility for four to six hours.”

On heavy training days, time spent at the track can be equivalent to working a part-time job.

After leaving the facility, many student-athletes go directly to class and then straight home for the night.

Like clockwork, the cycle repeats itself.

“I pretty much go to practice, come home, eat, and go to bed,” fourth-year sprinter Kalen Walker said.

Walker is a three-time All-American and holds three school records at the University of Iowa.

Behind the medals, Walker revealed the sacrifices he makes to perform his best.

“The relationships,” Walker reflected, “they definitely suffer.”

Between the time commitment and lifestyle choices, Walker believes it can be difficult for athletes to balance social life and a collegiate sport.

“For me, I prioritize javelin throwing,” second-year javelin thrower Mike Stein said. “It means so much to me.”

During the season, the Hawkeyes will leave for an away track and field meet on March 27 and get back on March 31. This schedule repeats for eight consecutive weeks.

The constant travel makes it difficult for friends and families to attend track and field meets.

“They can’t really drive five or six hours just to see you run,” Walker said. “It’s tough.”

The time spent on the road only brings the team closer.

In their free time at away meets, Bruxvoort said the women’s team will spend hours simply talking in each other’s hotel rooms. Walker recalls memories of exploring the different cities by walking around other college campuses or taking an Uber to restaurants.

But when meet day rolls around, the Hawkeyes are ready to race — and they have fun doing it.

The Hawkeyes agree that experiences like these outweigh the sacrifices.

“I think the pursuit of faster times and perfecting your craft is so addicting,” Bruxvoort said.

Her passion for track and field has made the struggles seem smaller, carrying the All-American through her last season as a Hawkeye.

As for Walker, he finds his motivation by making history and hearing from old friends.

“When my friends from high school text me and say ‘Hey, good job’ or ‘I’m keeping up with you,’ that means a lot,” Walker said.

Stein loves competing and sees every step as one that brings him closer to his mission of being the best javelin thrower in the world.

“Our performance is pretty much the entire sport and us putting our best out there means everything to us,” Walker said. “Those sacrifices are critical, even if they hurt a little bit. It kind of gives you an appreciation for what we do.”

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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.