More LOVE for Wartburg Track! Newsom “Coach of the Year!”

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on Friday the nation’s top leaders as voted by the coaches of NCAA’s Division III for the 2012 outdoor season. McMurry’s Barbara Crousen and Wartburg’s Marcus Newsom were named National Coaches of the Year while North Central’s Tim Winder and Illinois Wesleyan’s Greg Huffaker were named the top assistants of the division. Read more

Wartburg:Track Program of the Year!

photo courtesy-USTFCCCA

Click here to read the USTFCCCA story about Wartburg’s award of Track Program of the Year!!

Knights, Iowa is proud of you!!!!!

A Recovery Run by Jim Kirby

I’ve always felt more things applied to running than not, at least symbolically. In many ways, my involvement in running has helped me to preserver in different aspects of my life such as enduring suffering, understanding the work needed to achieve a goal, appreciate delayed gratification and the need to see the big picture and not to focus only on the immediately accessible.

Running certainly applies to faith. The apostle Paul knew and understood that. He was no stranger to running or at least he was aware of running as a sport.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (Cor 1.9 24-27)

“I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain.” (Gal 2:2)

  • “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” (Gal 5:7)
  • “And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.” (Phil 2:16)
  • “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7)

I am forever applying the lessons and symbolic virtues of running to my life and I can’t help escape it now as I look at another plus 50 birthday and deal with the issues of life.  As with any runner in the midst of training I am sometimes in need of a long recovery run. I need to recover from the hard intervals, challenging, exhausting competition and other efforts. I need to flush the system of all the lactic acid, impurities and hopefully expand and make the system more efficient. Most people call them vacations or extended weekends, but for me these recovery runs take the form of walks, retreats or simply spending more time doing the fun and easy things that make me happy and or sane. Some times they have very little to do with spirituality and definitely nothing to do with work and being a priest, although taking those recovery runs make me better at all of those things.

Like any worthwhile long run it isn’t always easy, I mean a long run of 20 miles, while good and effective for a runner, still takes ambition to do it and even though it may be done at an easy pace there does come a time when blood sugars drop and carbohydrates can get depleted. Even so, the determined runner must continue and I know that the long runs I take in life will be no different.  Like most long runs, it will be easy and fun at first, but difficult at different points along the way. These long runs are absolutely necessary and needed for me to improve as a Christian, person and yes, a runner. It is, as author Matt McCue described “An Honorable Run.” (Thanks Matt!) I invite you to follow along and perhaps attempt your own recovery run in your own way.

The following posts under the category “A Recovery Run” will be my personal attempt to apply the many gifts, blessings, benefits and lessons learns in the great classroom of running.   I’ll see you along the way of my “Recovery Run”

A Little Help From Our Friends…


“Would you be willing to be a “Sponsor” or place an ad?

When The Next Level Iowa came about, Jim Kirby and I knew it had potential. It has outgrown what we had hoped for already! The number of “hits” and comments we get on a daily basis is beyond what we had dreamed of. To do this right, to promote our Iowa kids like they deserve, takes money. Period. Jim and I never planned on this venture costing us much of anything. Nor do we have any intentions of making any money. With that being said, we are looking to see if anyone is willing to help us out? At the risk of sounding like a “televangelist”, we need donations. We want to be able to put video of kid’s performances on our site. We want to have pictures of them in competition. We want to post links to other sites for results, schedules, rosters etc. All of this takes bigger and better equipment than what we have. I look at all of this as a good problem, because we thought these issues were a year or two down the road. BUT…it proves that there are people out there, who want to know about our Iowa kids and follow them through their careers. If you are interested in being a sponsor or placing an ad on our site, or know someone who does, please contact us! Any amount would help. Small donations added up, equal large donations. We would love to visit.
Mike Jay and Jim Kirby

“The Dream of the Blue Oval” by Obsie Birru

The Dream of the Blue Oval when talking about Iowa, many people are unsure of where it is located, at least outside the context of The Drake Relays. For many years The Drake Relays have attracted national attention and has become one of Iowa’s greatest sources of honor and pride. It has become many high schoolers’ and professional athletes’ dream to be able to compete its blue oval. It is known for its great competition and experience. If you have not attended The Drake Relays, you are missing a very special and thrilling experience as the relays have continued to grow and evolve.

My real first experience with The Drake Relays came when I was in middle school. In 7th grade we competed in PE class in order to decide who would become the fastest four runners to represent our school at  The Drake Relays. Let’s just say I didn’t make the cut! I discovered quickly that sprinting was not my expertise. Growing Up in Ethiopia, people lived and breathed running. Runners were considered our countries pride and joy and all the people envied them. As you might know running has been in my blood for a long time, but back then, little did I know what the relays where about and how they could influence my desire to become an inspired runner. Read more

“Running in Faith” by Colette Gnade

Colette Gnade

Running to Faith Reflecting back on my last few years is a nauseating, frightful, humbling, exciting, and satisfying experience all at once. I am extremely thankful that I had the opportunity to compete against such outstanding middle distance athletes during my high school years. The blue oval will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I will cherish all the memories I have had at Drake Relays and the State Meet my entire life. Those opportunities have allowed me to go to one of the best universities in the country, the University of Virginia. The combination of top notch athletics and academics at UVA made my decision to attend easy. Unlike high school, on the other hand, my collegiate experience with running has been filled with injuries Read more

Northwestern’s Matt Huseman & Morningside’s Garret Ehlers Honored

Northwestern jumper Matt Huseman is this week’s GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Men’s Field Athlete of the Week.  Huseman, a junior from Sac City, Iowa, won the high jump at the Central Invite with a mark of 6-08.  There were eight other athletes competing and his mark meets the NAIA provisional standard.  Huseman was the NAIA Indoor champion in the high jump.

Morningside runner Garret Ehlers is this week’s GPAC/Hauff Mid-America Sports Men’s Track Athlete of the Week.  Ehlers, a sophomore from Ida Grove, Iowa, won the 3000 Meter Steeplechase with a time of 9:23.61 at the Wayne State Invite.  Ehlers won out of a field of nine competitors, broke the meet record, and set a new Morningside record with his performance.  His time is fifth best in the NAIA so far this season.

“Pursuing Greatness” by Shelby Houlihan

I knew since I was 5 years old, when my mom started putting me in one mile cross country races that I wanted to run. My dream ever since then has been to compete in the Olympics and to be one of the best female runners in the world. No one ever told me that this is what I should do, it has just always been inside of me and I’ve always had this feeling that I’m supposed to do something and be somebody. Whether this is God’s will or my own, this dream has always been one I hope to achieve. I first started training seriously for track when I was in 8th grade and competed in national competitions in the 800m. My freshman year of high school was a lot of fun but it was kind of scary to be racing these girls that were older than me such as Katie Flood, Ashley Decker, the Dinsdale twins, or Collete Gnade. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I really fell in love with this sport. Winning both the 1500m and the 800m at Drake was a real breakthrough point for me and made me realize that I can compete with any of these girls. That summer, I competed at Nike Outdoor Nationals in Greensboro, NC and ran what is so far the fastest race of my life. Coming in 3rd at 2:07.35, I set the Iowa All-time high school record in the Read more

“5 Good Minutes With Knoxville’s Randy Wilson!”

Knoxville native, Randy Wilson, is without a doubt, our states best ever 800 meter runner. What I find so unique about Randy is that he WAS NOT a half-miler in high school! He was a Cross Country champion, a Mile champion and High Hurdle champion! In addition, Randy is still the Drake Relays Invitational 800 Meter Run record holder. Some of the best have taken a shot at his1978 winning mark of 1:45.86 over the years, only to come up short. And that is just fine!! Randy Wilson is not only Iowa’s best ever, he is one the best ever in the USA. I had the opportunity to do a “Question and Answer” interview with Randy recently.  I hope you enjoy it as we gear up for the 2012 edition of the Drake Relays. Read more

“To Run” by Abbie Smith

Abbie Smith Dowling Catholic 2002

To run is to just let go. To run is to pray in thanksgiving for your glorious surroundings and just be thankful. To run is to pray in lieu of your sadness. To run is to be completely out of your control and in HIS. Running has taught me more in life, than I could have ever imagined. I started running as a means to be a better all-sport athlete, and in turn the art of running has shaped me into the woman, Christian, athlete and scholar that I am today. Looking back it’s easy to realize that God guided my path toward Him through running, by giving me just enough talent to see some running successes, but with just enough set-backs to keep continually striving forward. Initially, running was a means to improve my body physically. Run more miles, burn more calories… It was not too long after I started running for physical reasons, that I quickly realized running was so much more. In a time during high school when I needed nothing more than a loyal friend and father-figure, running became a daily ‘date’ with God, where I offered up my lungs and legs in return for his gentle voice and hand to push me up the hills and basins of life. As I struggled with self-esteem and self-acceptance, through running, God continued to demonstrate to me the talents that He had given me. He taught me the skills of dedication and consistency through training and improvements. He gave me opportunities to be a strong leader. He gave me injuries and pain to remind me that I am not in control. He taught me that my body was more than something physical, but instead it surrounded a strong soul and heart– something more valuable than just a skinny body. He taught me about passion and love of others through training and competition. And through running, He truly taught me that I can do anything, for He is always by my side. To this day, I recall upon the same verse from Matthew 6 that I would read and breathe as my running mantra: 25‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin…. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. As I am now beyond my competitive career, God still continues to present opportunities of Faith, Passion, Leadership, Knowledge and Self-worth through running. As I sit here and reflect upon where I am today, I find it ironic and seamlessly faith-filled that I am in a position to teach and mentor individuals about exercise and nutrition, which is incredibly enhanced by my experiences with running, competition and living a God centered life. More so, I find myself in places that were once thought to be out of reach, and presented with unimaginable opportunities, all signs that I am not in control. God has a plan for me. I am where I am today, because I learned to let God guide one foot in front of the other, to run to obtain the prize.

Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Dowling Catholic H.S.
Truman State University, BS-Academic All-American Cross Country, Track & Field
University of Oklahoma, MS, PhD