April 2013

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A Limitless Mindset By Chris Brewer T he Hawkeyes are taking the party outside, and freshman Kaitlyn Nelson is ready lead the charge. Nelson, a pre-pharmacy major from West Des Moines, Iowa, has put the indoor track and field season to bed, and is placing no limitations on the outdoor season. "I'm looking forward to outdoors because as a team that's where we can make some big moves," Nelson said before the Hawkeyes' season-opener in Tuscaloosa, Ala. "I'm hoping we can change what happened indoors, and I want to help the team during the outdoor season by scoring points at the conference meet." Iowa whiffed on some expectations during the indoor season, and no one knows that better than Nelson. She set a personal-record in the 600 meters at the Big Ten Championships — a mark of 1:31.44 that ranks sixth all-time in program history — but it wasn't enough to reach the finals. Two one-hundredths of a second separated Nelson from the Big Ten point-scorers, and the result didn't sit well. "I just know I could have pushed myself harder," said Nelson. "It's hard to come to the fact that you were the first (competitor) out. It is a bitter feeling, but it's something I can learn from and use as motivation for the outdoor season." Her coach said that reaction is a reflection of the expectations Nelson and her teammates bring to the track every day. "She placed ninth, so she was the first person out and she was upset like anyone would be if they missed getting to the finals," said UI assistant coach Clive Roberts. "Our training is pretty aggressive, and we approach the competition with a limitless mindset. If you're on the bus, going to the meet, the expectation is to get to the finals. She knows that." Nelson also knows the expectations heading into her rookie outdoor season. Her coach believes she can become one of the top 800 runners in school history, and she's ready to back it up. Nelson took one look at the school's all-time top 10 list, and when asked where she could see her name by the end of the season, she pointed near the top. "By the end of the season I could be one, maybe two," said Nelson. "It's attainable, but it's going to take a lot of work." Former Big Ten Champion Bethany Praska owns the top spot on that list (2:03.78), and Nelson doesn't have to look far to see how she got there. Praska continues to train with Roberts in Iowa City as she prepares for professional competitions. "It's nice having Bethany push me at practice to become a better runner," said Nelson. "It's really nice having her around because she's obviously someone I look up to." It took Praska four years of collegiate training to grab the 800-meter school record. It had stood for 29 seasons before she bested Kay Stormo's previous record (2:05.67) by nearly two seconds. To believe Nelson can do in four months what it took Praska four years may seem far-fetched, but that's the mindset the Hawkeyes use to improve each day. "Kaitlyn's a worker," said Roberts. "She's just a blue collar girl that comes in every single day and clocks in. Talent alone doesn't get you to the top. Truly it's going to be the work you put in, and Kaitlyn's got that." "I really try to strive to be the best I can and push myself to go farther. That's how you make yourself successful," added Nelson. "The competition is pretty tough and times just keep getting lower and lower, so I keep working hard and pushing through and find success in every meet." 61

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