Running Into The History Books

May 24, 2006

IOWA CITY, IA – Drake Relays Champion. Three-time All-American. NCAA Champion. And she’s only a sophomore.

Already, Kineke Alexander has accomplished what many athletes hope to achieve in their entire collegiate career. And, and she’s still getting better with every competition.

“She has improved a great deal. She came as a 53-second quarter mile runner. She has improved almost two seconds her freshman year. I think she can continue to improve each year,” said Women’s Track Coach James Grant.

When Alexander began her career at Iowa last year, many people didn’t realize the potential she possessed. She had already competed several times in international competitions. She ran the 400 meters at 2001 and 2003 World Youth Championships as well as the 2001, 2002 and 2003 CARIFTA Junior Championships. At the 2004 CARIFTA Junior Championships, she was the runner-up in the under-20 400 meters, setting a junior national record of 53.83.

Alexander left her home of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean to begin her career at Iowa. She wasn’t on campus long when people began to take notice of her talent. During indoor competition her freshman year (2005), she became an all-American, finishing sixth in the 400 meter dash at the NCAA Championships with a time of 54.06. She was also the runner-up in the 400 meters at the Big Ten Championships. She continued to improve during the outdoor season. After finishing seventh in the 400 meters (51.94) at the NCAA Championships, she was named an all-American. She was also the runner-up at the NCAA Midwest Regional in the 400 meters.

While she may have been an unknown when she began her career at Iowa, her performance this winter and spring has made her one of the most recognized athletes on the team. After a successful indoor season, Alexander was the star of the Big Ten Championships, winning the 400 meters in a time of 52.31, smashing both the Iowa school record as well as the Big Ten Championship record. She then won the 200 meter dash, earning first team all-Big Ten honors.

To cap-off the dream season, Alexander won the 400 meter dash at the NCAA Championships with a time of 52.16. She became the fourth Hawkeye in women’s track history to be crowned an NCAA Champion and the first sprinter to do so. Iowa’s other NCAA Champions are Tracy Dahl in the 5,000 meters (1992 and 1993) and Nan Doak 10,000 meters (1985). For Coach Grant, watching one of his athletes win the title is something he’ll never forget.

“It was very special, especially since she’s so young, and we didn’t have any other NCAA champions,” he said.

Being crowned champion is also a moment Alexander cherishes. “The greatest moment was probably winning the NCAA indoor title Championships,” she said. “It’s really a great accomplishment. I’m really proud of myself and what I’ve accomplished.”

Even though Alexander has already achieved many of her dreams, she is still looking to improve. She spent her off-season working on getting stronger. She’s already seeing the benefits of her work. Having already qualified for the NCAA regional meet (May 26 and 27), Alexander enters the Big Ten Championship with a chance to enter school history by winning four career Big Ten titles. Only two other female athletes have accomplished that feat.

While she still has many more collegiate competitions remaining, both Grant and Alexander can see a bright and promising future.

“I’d like to see her continue to do well in the Big Ten and NCAA meets in the next two years and go on to the Olympics,” said Grant.

“I want to be an Olympic champion. That is my dream.” said Alexander.

Jennifer Bissell, Iowa Sports Information