Roach Leaps To New Heights

Feb. 16, 2007


For most people, the plummeting temperatures and threat of snow is an unwelcome change. But for UI track star Peaches Roach, the transition from fall to winter means the start of the track season.

Roach, a senior jumper and sprinter on the UI track team, has been a leader on the team since she stepped on campus. Now, in her final year of collegiate competition, Roach is hoping to finish out a phenomenal career with a few more first place finishes.

“I’d like a higher indoor and outdoor finish at NCAAs. I’d like to win the Big Ten championship again. For my team, I want the team to finish in the top three again,” said Roach.

The road to Iowa began in Kingston, Jamaica, where Roach grew up. While in Jamaica, Roach became the 2003 Jamaican national champion and high school national champion in the high jump. She also placed sixth in the high jump (6-0) in the 2002 World Junior Championships.

When it came time to decide on college, Iowa seemed like the best choice for Roach.

“I was recruited by Coach [James] Grant, who’s also Jamaican. I was drawn to where the coach was Jamaican because he’d be more understanding to where I’m from and what I’m going through,” she said.

She was also impressed with the emphasis on being a student as well as an athlete.

“I was impressed by the University and the whole team of student-athletes. Other schools didn’t emphasize the term student-athlete. They were recruiting me as an athlete, not as a student-athlete.”

Senior Peaches Roach

Coach Grant was also drawn to Roach, who has been described as having an upbeat personality and a great smile.

“She has depth and positive vibes. She’s an outgoing person. She adds a great deal to the team,” said Grant. “She’s a very special athlete. She’s someone who most look up to.”

Since becoming a Hawkeye, Roach has continued to improve. During her freshman year in 2003-2004, Roach became a Big Ten champion in both indoor and outdoor competition. She also ran the 60-meters, placing fifth at the Big Ten Indoor Championships and was a part of the 400-meter relay team that placed seventh at the Big Ten Championships.

During her sophomore season, Roach became an all-American after placing sixth in the high jump at the NCAA Indoor Championships. She also became a Big Ten champion for the third time.

Last year Roach added more accolades to her already long résumé. She became an all-American in both indoor and outdoor competition. Her fourth place finish in the outdoor high jump is a feat both she and Grant are most proud of.

While this season has just begun, Roach is off to an impressive start. She has placed first in the Jack Johnson Classic in Minneapolis, MN, first in the Carle/Health Alliance Invitational and first at the Frank Sevigne Husker Invitational, all at heights of 5-10.

Even though this is her last year of collegiate competition, it hasn’t sunk in yet that she is near the end of competing for the black and gold.

“It hasn’t really hit home for me yet. I haven’t felt the last year rush yet, but it’s coming slowly but surely,” she said.

“It started at the Husker Invite. I’ve won there for three years, and this was my last time competing there. I have moments when I realize it is almost over.”

No matter how the season ends, Roach will look back on her career with fond memories. Not only will she miss competing for the Hawkeyes but she said she will also miss the UI environment.

“I will miss the team atmosphere and the energy of the team and the discipline. It takes a lot of discipline to be a student-athlete. Also, I’ll miss my friends. They’re not just my teammates. Most of them are my friends too.”

Grant said he will miss Roach both on the track and off.

“I will miss her leadership. She takes the younger ones under her leadership,” he said. “I’m going to miss the presence she brings to practice every day.”

After she hangs up her track shoes, Roach plans to work for a while and take a break from being a student. She hopes to apply for graduate school and enter dental school.

As for continuing her track career, Roach says she’ll take it one day at a time.

“I’ll decide at the end of the season. I’ll see how far it takes me and if it makes sense, I’ll continue. If I don’t, I’m proud of my career so far.”

Jennifer Bissell, Iowa Sports Information