Dedicated and committed’

Dedicated and committed'

by Cassie Norman

Senior Jen Wendt, member of the cross country and track teams, is known and feared throughout the Iowa Conference as the best distance runner in the conference.

Wendt started her career at Simpson as a member of both the volleyball and track and field teams. After her first year of track, the cross country coach convinced her to go out to help prepare and improve for the track season.

At first she was skeptical because the distance was longer than her usual 800 and 1,500-meter events. Since that year, Wendt has continued to increase her distance and currently competes in both 5,000 and 10,000-meter events.

Throughout her last four years, Wendt has posted impressive times and received many honors. She has earned eight All-Conference awards in six different events and two Academic All-Conference awards. Between cross country and track and field, she is the school-record holder for five events.

When she won the Iowa Conference Cross Country title in the fall of 2005, she was the first Simpson runner to receive the title in 15 years. Wendt looks back fondly on this moment in her career.

“Winning the conference in cross country is one of my most memorable moments,” Wendt said. “I was really excited. It was great to see all of my hard work pay off.”

Wendt’s success is due largely to her hard work and dedication. Both coaches and players respect Wendt for her drive and commitment. Todd Deely, head men’s and women’s cross country coach, says she is an incredibly hard worker.

“She’ll do anything I tell her to,” Deely said. “She’s very coachable, dedicated and committed. It’s great to coach someone like that.”

With such great determination, Wendt has been able to improve tremendously since her freshman year.

Junior Erin Bone has been running with Wendt for three years and has witnessed the strides she’s made.

“She puts in a lot of mileage and is very competitive,” Bone said. “She has also gained a lot of confidence. Mental toughness and confidence are a key aspect of longer races and as both of these have developed, so has Jen’s running.”

According to Deely, as one of a few seniors on the track and field team, Wendt serves as a leader and role model to the other members. Her hard work helps motivate and push those around her. Similarly, her athletic ability also enables her to serve as a leader. Runners of Wendt’s caliber can help boost morale and confidence for a team. And when Wendt is racing, her teammates are convinced she is going to win.

The competition is one of her favorite things about track and field. She also likes being able to set goals and work toward them. This season Wendt hopes to achieve her goal of winning the conference in the 5,000 and 10,000-meter events, as well as qualify for nationals in the 10,000-meter race.

“I enjoy going out and racing,” Wendt said. “I like trying to improve. You can set goals and see yourself achieve them.”

With one year of eligibility remaining for cross country, Wendt plans to return in the fall to compete for Simpson. She will work and take a night class to remain eligible.

According to Bone, despite all of the success and hype surrounding Wendt, her teammates still consider her as another girl on the team. She gets tired and sore like everyone else and doesn’t like running in the rain or getting up early to go on long bus rides.

“Running with Jen is the same as it is running with everyone else on the team,” Bone said. “It’s fun because you’re teammates and you’re friends.”