May 13, 2009
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — What began as a bumpy journey for University of Iowa running sensation Racheal Marchand ended on a smooth ride because of her patience and the resources within the Hawkeye athletic department.
Marchand will graduate this weekend with a degree in American studies. She was recently named Iowa Female Athlete of the Year after a stellar career where she earned four All-American awards. Marchand placed 30th at the 2006 NCAA cross country championships, then repeated as an All-American during her final three competitive seasons — placing eighth in the 10,000-meter run (34:05.87) at the 2008 NCAA outdoor track championship, fifth at the 2008 NCAA cross country championship (19:54.9) and third at the 2009 NCAA indoor track championship in 5,000 run (15:59.44).
“It took a lot of patience and a lot of hard work, a lot of miles and a lot of time in the weight room,” Marchand said. “It was really difficult at first, but Coach (Layne) Anderson taught me how to be patient, telling my time would come. It took a lot of guidance from Coach Anderson.”
Marchand was a cross country All-American in high school, but she quickly discovered the differences and challenges of competing as a collegian.
“In high school I didn’t look for or seek help, I put it all on my shoulders. I learned at the collegiate level that’s not possible. You have to rely on resources, you have to get into the training room, you have to come up with a plan with your coach and execute it. You can’t do it by yourself…it’s OK to seek help and Iowa has excellent resources.”
UI Athlete of the Year
“There is a transition period and a feeling out period where they discover what it takes to compete at this level,” Anderson said. “There is physiological and psychological adaptation that needs to occur. Like I told Racheal, if you invest fully, you can be very successful. She invested two years of her life in this transition process, then all of a sudden she’s an All-American, one of the top runners in the Big Ten and a regional (cross country) champion. It’s the ultimate in delayed gratification.”
Patience paid off for Marchand, so did leaning on others. A self-proclaimed, self-reliant individual, Marchand said it wasn’t until she embraced assistance that she began to blossom as a student-athlete.
“In high school I didn’t look for or seek help, I put it all on my shoulders,” Marchand said. “I learned at the collegiate level that’s not possible. You have to rely on resources, you have to get into the training room, you have to come up with a plan with your coach and execute it. You can’t do it by yourself…it’s OK to seek help and Iowa has excellent resources.”
Anderson refers to the Hawkeye resources as `unconditional support’ and he said it speaks to the commitment the UI provides its student-athletes.
“It’s a package deal,” Anderson said. “No one person, as talented as they are, can do it solely on their own, and no coach, as talented as he or she may be, can do it without quality athletes who are willing to commit. It’s a collaborative effort and it demonstrates that if you come to Iowa and you’re willing to invest the time and energy, then great things can and will happen for you.”
With the All-American medals stashed away and a diploma in hand this weekend, Marchand can now turn her attention to a career as a professional runner. She has already competed three times as a pro, placing second in the 5K at the Stanford Invitational, fourth in the 1,500 at the Drake Relays and on May 7, edged former teammate Meghan Armstrong for fourth place in the USATF Road Mile Championship in Minneapolis with a time of 4-minutes, 43-seconds. She has an eye on the USA Championships in Eugene, Ore., as well as the 2012 Olympics.
“I’m going to keep training and see how it goes,” Marchand said. “I want to get stronger and hopefully make it to the Olympic trials and put myself in position to make the Olympic team.”
“You can’t sell Racheal short on anything. If she puts her mind to it, she could very easily accomplish it. Could she, in four years, be in position with 600 meters to go at the Olympic trials to make an Olympic team? If she has the resources and the opportunity to pursue that, she very easily could.”
UI head coach
“You can’t sell Racheal short on anything,” Anderson said. “If she puts her mind to it, she could very easily accomplish it. Could she, in four years, be in position with 600 meters to go at the Olympic trials to make an Olympic team? If she has the resources and the opportunity to pursue that, she very easily could.”
Marchand originally signed with the University of Colorado, but before the ink dried decided that the trek from her hometown of Valparaiso, Ind., to Boulder was too far. A stop in Iowa City appeared to be a more comfortable fit.
“I thought there was going to be a university in the middle of a cornfield,” Marchand said. “When I came here my perception really changed. I have a family unit here now. Before I came here I didn’t know anyone and I made so many great friends and so many relationships that I’m going to have for the rest of my life.”
The success of Marchand at Iowa didn’t go unnoticed at her alma mater, Valparaiso High School. In 2007, twin sisters Amanda and Lauren Hardesty — also Valparaiso graduates — signed with the Hawkeyes. Megan Ranegar, a current senior at Valparaiso High School, will attend the UI in the fall.
“It’s a good pipeline,” Marchand said. “Coach Anderson sees the work ethic we had in high school — our coaches make us work hard and we’re tough girls. I think Coach Anderson admires that and that is the type of person he wants in his program.”
At the Athletic and Academic Achievement Banquet on May 4, Marchand was named the UI’s Female Athlete of the Year, making her the third track runner in a row to win the award after Kineke Alexander (2007) and Diane Nukuri (2008).
“I was really flattered and kind of taken off guard,” Marchand said. “In order to receive an award like that, you definitely can’t do it alone. I had help from so many people and I’m thankful.”
In the end, Marchand fulfilled one of her primary objectives.
“Coming to college, I wasn’t here just to run,” she said. “I wanted to accomplish things and make a name for myself.”