Wendt outruns the competition

Wendt outruns the competition

by Erin Kreiman

The week of Sept. 18, Jen Wendt was named Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) Female Athlete of the Week. The following week, she was named IIAC Cross Country Runner of the Week. The senior is proving to be a major asset for the Storm cross country team, and she’s turning heads in the process.

“It is a huge honor,” Wendt said. “Especially being named Female Athlete of the Week because you’re up against female athletes from all sports. Cross country doesn’t get as much recognition as other sports, so this brings attention to the sport.”

At the UMASS-Dartmouth Invitational on Sept. 17, Wendt finished fifth out of 264 runners with a time of 18:49. She finished only 23 seconds behind the race’s winner. What’s more impressive is that her time was the ninth-fastest 5,000-meter time in school history.

Just one week later, at the Augustana College Brissman-Lundeen Invitational, she broke her own 6,000-meter school record, and led Simpson to a 14th-place finish out of 27 teams.

Todd Deely, Simpson’s head cross country coach, is optimistic about the season, especially with the talent Wendt brings.

“I’ve coached teams with individual talent before,” Deely said. “But I’ve never coached an individual who had the potential to do this kind of damage at the national level.”

This is only Wendt’s second season participating in cross country at Simpson, although she has been on the track team for the past three years. In high school, Wendt didn’t run competitively – she played volleyball.

She claims cross country is the most physically challenging sport she has ever participated in, but according to teammate junior Erin Bone, Wendt has met the challenge. According to Bone, Wendt helps drive the team toward success – both in meets and at practice.

“Jen might complain about a workout, but she’ll go out and destroy it,” Bone said. “She gets results. It is just as difficult for Jen as it is for us, so seeing her results inspires everyone else to work hard too.”

Her efforts have been worth it, both in the past and in the current seasons of cross country and track. Wendt’s other cross-country achievements include qualifying for the All-Central Region Team in 2003, and being named All-Conference in 2003.

For track, she was named All-Conference in 2002-03 in the indoor 1,000-meter and outdoor 1,500-meter events. In 2004, she was named All-Conference in the 3,000-meter indoor event, and already in 2005, she has been named All-Conference in the outdoor 10,000-meter event.

Wendt said she enjoys competing, not for the titles, but for the accomplishment.

“I love the personal satisfaction of meeting the challenge, and it’s great to reach the personal goals you set for yourself,” Wendt says. “You have to run for yourself before you can run for anyone else.”