Jan. 16, 2007
PARK RIDGE, IL – On August 15, 2006, the Big Ten Conference celebrated the 25th anniversary of the inception of official league championships for women’s athletics. Each week a current or former student-athlete or administrator is featured as part of that celebration. This week Big Ten staffer Angela Stricker writes about Hawkeye junior sprinter Kineke Alexander.
At the University of Iowa, its best athlete doesn’t swing a bat, wear a helmet or swish buzzer-beaters. Fans and alumni can’t buy her jersey and few probably know her name.
But none of that matters to Kineke Alexander. It only makes her want to run faster.
The junior track star has made her claim as one of the school’s best-ever in only two seasons after becoming Iowa’s first NCAA sprint champion last March. But even though the Iowa star has always been a quick study, a relentless passion and pursuit of perfection has pushed her a long way from the park near her childhood home in the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent where she started galloping laps as a 5-year-old.
Growing up, Alexander did not find success as easily as she would have liked. When she started competing at 8, the other girls towered over her.
After she finally hit her growth spurt in high school, Alexander stepped up her training and erupted onto the international track scene in just four years.
“I started out this skinny girl running around the track, but I knew I was hooked on running when I first went to the [Central American Caribbean] games,” Alexander explained. “I thought this is what I want, so I kept competing and training until I got better.”
Head coach James Grant, who is also a Caribbean native, was also at that CAC Championship in Puerto Rico when Alexander was only 15 years old. As soon as he spotted Alexander, the Hawkeyes’ mentor knew he had found the next great Iowa track star.
“I thought, this young lady has got to have something,” Grant said. “Her physique and her age and how she looked. She looked very good in the first half of a race so I thought with maturity and good training she’d be something special.”
Grant sent a questionnaire to Alexander’s high school, and the Hawkeye prodigy found her home and path to elite success.
“I didn’t know a thing about Iowa,” Alexander said. “Now, I know Iowa is for me. Being here is the start of my dreams coming true.”