Sept. 14, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa head cross country coach Layne Anderson was impressed with the effort Mareike Schrulle showed in her rookie campaign last season. Good grades, great sportsmanship and historical performances. What's not to like?
The graduate student from Arnsburg, Germany, ran into the school's all-time top performers' list, scored points at the Big Ten indoor championships and was named Iowa's Big Ten Sportsmanship Award honoree. And she did it all on one ankle... sort of.
Schrulle committed to Iowa's graduate school after an impressive career in Germany that included a first place finish at the 2008 German National Track Championships. But before she arrived on campus, she suffered an ankle injury in January 2011 on a training course.
"She came here with impressive credentials," said Anderson. "She was one of the better junior runners in Germany, but unfortunately arrived here with a pretty severely sprained ankle and she wasn't able to train well in the seven to eight months leading up to her arrival."
Schrulle spent her early days in Iowa City managing the ankle with daily trips to the training room. She was determined to get better, but she was also determined to run. For a few months she got away with having her cake and eating it too, but over time the two were unable to coexist.
"I wanted to do my best for the team," said Schrulle. "I knew that I was not at full strength. I was cross training a lot and working hard, but I knew that was not the same as running or working out. So I told myself to just do your best for the team, pull your hat out and run. You can't do more than that."
Schrulle excelled during the cross country season, placing third among Hawkeyes while leading Iowa to a fourth place finish at the NCAA Midwest Regional. She then led the team in the 3,000 and 5,000 meters during the indoor season, and qualified for the NCAA Championships in the outdoor season.
"It was a gutsy season," said Anderson. "Despite the injury and setback she ran a 15-second PR in the 5k and PR'd in the 3k indoors. She was out there doing some good things, which made you think, 'wow if she can do all this with the limitation she has, what can she do when she's healthy?'"
Schrulle decided after the NCAA Outdoor Championships it was time to see what she could do when healthy. She had surgery on May 29, three days after the season, and immediately committed to reshaping her body.
"Surgery helped a lot," said Schrulle. "I'm now running every day and last year I didn't go through a week where I was running every day. I'm pretty sure I'm in better shape this year than I was last year. I try to take better care of myself and still work with the trainers. I try to do the little things."
In her return to the course on Sept. 7, Schrulle placed second at the Bradley Open, giving Anderson renewed confidence she can be a big player during championship season.
"She looks great, she's fit and she's already doing things this year in her workouts that she was doing at her best last year," Anderson said. "She's a racer and competes well on game day. She's confident and for the most part she's healthy."
Healthy and happy.
"Every day I can run again is great for me," said Schrulle. "Coach Anderson has been very supportive since I've been on campus, and I'm really having a fun time being with the team and not being hurt. Being hurt is mentally stressful and right now I'm just a happy person because I can run every day."