24: Fast Times with Rhonda Kaye Trusty
April 15, 2010
Editor's note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Wednesday, Aug. 12, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2009-10 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa senior Rhonda Kaye Trusty likes a good chase. Competing for the Hawkeye women's track team helps quench that desire.
Trusty is in the midst of her final outdoor season. During the most recent outing at the Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Ariz., Trusty won both the 100 (11.74) and 200-meter dashes (23.83) and was a member of the third-place 4x100 relay (45.89). A week earlier at the Tiger Classic in Auburn, Ala., Trusty ran the second leg on the UI 4x400-meter relay team that placed third (3:39.88), was the second leg on the 4x100 team that was fourth (45.70) and competed in an open 400 dash for just the second time in her career and finished fifth (55.09).
"I'm feeling good about the season," Trusty said. "I kind of surprised myself (at Auburn) with that 400. I honestly didn't know what I was going to have for a time. When I crossed the line, I thought to myself, `Should I have a better goal? Was this good? Was this bad? Overall I was pretty happy about it."
Primarily a 100 and 200 specialist, Trusty said her ideal race would be a nonexistent event somewhere in between.
"If it were possible, I would have a 150-meter race, but it's not," she said. "I love the 200. It's not too long and it's not too short."
Trusty was born in Jamaica and lived there until the age of 11 when her family moved to Brampton, Ontario, Canada -- a 20-minute commute from Toronto. By that time, Trusty knew she wanted to someday study and compete in the United States.
"I always knew that I was going to come to the states for track and field," Trusty said. "In terms of dreams, I'm a little behind on where my dreams were at that point in time because of injuries and negative thinking on my part. I'm very happy to say that I'm definitely past that now."
Like most talented trackers in the Caribbean, Trusty began training and competing at a young age. She was discovered, so to speak, at an event called Sports Day, where Jamaican children participate in events that range from carrying a lemon on a spoon to more traditional track events.
"My coach saw that I could run and he decided to enter me," Trusty said. "From there he realized I had a talent for running. It all started there and I haven't stopped since."
Track received most of Trusty's attention when she was a youth, even though she also attempted dancing.
"As my teammates can tell you, I have zero flexibility," Trusty said. "I guess the dancing really didn't help me that much."
Soccer was also out of the question.
"Most people know that I don't like to run around a lot," Trusty added. "So the 90 minutes...it wouldn't work for me."
James Grant was head coach at the UI from 1997-2007 before his death on July 23, 2007. During that span, the Hawkeyes had 26 Big Ten champions and 15 All-Americans. Grant, who was also from Jamaica, recruited Trusty, and he made a favorable impression on Trusty's parents, Roy and Erica. Running was just one reason Trusty was interested in the UI; the other were the academic programs.
"I'm a psychology and pre-med major, so that drove me to come here," Trusty said.
Trusty will graduate in December, 2010, and then she will apply to medical schools in Canada.
"As a little girl, I always thought I would be running after college," Trusty said. "Right now I believe I will be running after college, but it depends on how this season goes."
As far as the 2010 season is concerned, so far, so good. It has been somewhat of a continuation from an impressive conference outdoor meet, where as a junior a year ago, Trusty finished fourth at Big Ten's in the 100 dash (11.85), fourth in the 200 (24.11, 23.83 in preliminary) and was a member of the sixth-place 4x100 relay team (46.30, 45.83 in preliminary).
"Rhonda has certainly been the foundation and the focal point of our sprinting corps," said Layne Anderson, UI head women's track and field coach. "She's been the main person in the 100 and 200. We felt last year at conference was sort of a coming-out party for her and we're excited to see where she goes this spring. She's already off to a good start and we'll see where she finishes."
Trusty is experiencing mixed emotions, saying it is both exciting and sad that this is her final season as a Hawkeye. Both she and Anderson agree that her biggest growth while on campus has been adopting a more upbeat outlook.
"I have become more positive in terms of my athletic career and even with academics," Trusty said. "The people around me -- my roommates, my parents and my coaches -- were constantly reminding me that I needed to be positive and I also prayed a lot. That helped because I really wanted to remind myself that I could be better than what I thought I was."
Said Anderson: "Early-on, Rhonda was a little apprehensive; she wasn't running in competition at the same level that her training reflected. Last spring was a confirmation for her that she can compete with anybody at the Big Ten level."
Anderson credits UI assistant coach Clive Roberts for helping develop Trusty's strength, which is essential for a successful Division I sprinter.
"Coach Roberts has done a great job working on Rhonda's strength and strength development," Anderson said. "Hopefully her increased strength will drive her 100 and 200 times down this season as well."
The Hawkeyes return to action by hosting the Iowa Invitational on Saturday, April 17, beginning at noon. The Drake Relays will be April 22-24 in Des Moines.
"I want to improve all my times," Trusty said. "I'm not one to really set a specific goal. I have it written down in my room, but I never say it out loud. I'm looking to improve my time and I believe I will. In terms of my team, I want to see us improve on our position that we finished at the Big Ten indoor meet."
Iowa was ninth in the indoor championships, scoring 36 points. Trusty scored two points in the 60 dash (seventh, 7.60) and was a member of the 4x400 unit that added two more points (seventh, 3:44.43). She was 11th in the 200 (24.30).
"More than anything, Rhonda leads by example," Anderson said. "She goes out there, works, competes hard and does what the coaches ask her to do."