Aug. 29, 2011
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Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Thursday, July 28, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2011-12 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.
IOWA CITY, Iowa —Running is running for Betsy Flood.
The University of Iowa senior has competed and excelled in every distance from 600 to 10,000 meters, but she knows that close doesn’t count in her sport. Depending on the day, Flood is either motivated or haunted by the fact that as a junior, she was runner-up in the Big Ten Conference in four races spanning 23,000 meters by a total of 5.46 seconds.
“College running has been a lot of disappointment for me and just continually falling short of what my goal is,” Flood said. “If you’re working really hard at something, I think your goal should be to be at the top.”
That outlook separates Flood from many runners. She is a five-time national qualifier and an All-American, yet the few letdowns outweigh numerous triumphs.
During the 2011 indoor track season, Flood was second in the Big Ten 5,000-meter run by 0.02 seconds and in the 3,000 by 0.26. During the outdoor season she was second in the 5,000 by 2.41 seconds and in the 10,000 by 2.77.
Those memories might not be the fondest for Flood, but the way she and her Hawkeye teammates finished the 5K at conference is reason for optimism this fall in cross country. Iowa had three of the top six placewinners in that event: Flood and fellow seniors Brooke Eilers (fifth) and McKenzie Melander (sixth).
Most student-athletes would wallow in Flood’s accomplishments; Flood is far from typical. But the thought of enjoying one more season with her teammates (and best friends) and the promise of a bright cross country season is plenty of incentive.
“It’s special because it’s my senior year, but it’s also Brooke and McKenzie’s senior year,” Flood said. “We have the second-best high school recruit in the nation (Kayla Beattie) coming in and we have a girl from Germany (Mareike Schrulle) coming in and we have a ton of depth. The sixth and seventh spots will be the most competitive to get, so people are going to be fighting to be on the team. That will make us a better team, too.”
As a freshman, Flood placed 39th in the Big Ten cross country championships and the Hawkeyes finished sixth. As a sophomore she was 26th and the team was sixth again. Last season Flood earned second-team all-Big Ten honors by running eighth, but the Hawkeyes slipped two spots in the standings. She is eager for a third trip to the NCAA Championships — Iowa was 24th in 2008 and Flood qualified as an individual in 2010, placing 66th.
“We have a lot of girls ready to take the next step and Betsy will be one of the key members because she has shown the ability to run at the front in any race,” UI head coach Layne Anderson said. “I’m as excited as I’ve ever been at Iowa. We have that type of potential at the top like the year we were 10th (in the NCAA Championships) in 2007. The one thing we have this year that we didn’t have that year is a lot more depth.”
When Flood was searching for colleges, she nearly took the athlete out of student-athlete. Anderson made a visit to the Floods’ home in Des Moines, Iowa, and Flood joined her mother, Ann, on an abbreviated tour of the UI campus. She didn’t meet any of her future teammates on the visit. But after one practice, she was all Hawkeye.
“I pictured in my head that I’m going to this (cross country) practice and then my life will be the school,” Flood said. “But when I came, running became my life and (my teammates) are my best friends.”
In junior high, Flood started in the sprint events, slowly working up to the 800 and 1,500 — her specialties in high school. At the UI Flood has run the 600, 800, 1,500, mile, 3K, 5K, 6K and 10K. She qualified for national track in the 1,500 as a freshman and sophomore and the 5K as a junior.
“I learned when coach threw me in the 10K this year that so much of it is mental,” Flood said. “You can do a lot more than you think you can do. I really enjoy running, but I’m not happy with myself if I go into a race and I haven’t done everything I could do in order to be prepared. Knowing that I have all the preparation and no one has done more than me lets me know that I can run with all these people and we’ll see what happens at the end.”
“Betsy is an extremely hard worker, great student, wonderful person and somebody who has transformed herself into an elite all-around distance runner,” Anderson said. “She’s not just a track runner or a middle distance runner, but she can be competitive from cross country through indoor, all the way into outdoor at every distance.”
Flood’s younger sister, Katie, followed her footsteps and competes in cross country and track at the University of Washington. Betsy cried when Katie spurned Iowa’s scholarship offer, but in the end it might have been a blessing considering the “friendly competition” in the Flood home.
“Looking back on it, I think it was best and I think we would have just killed each other and been overly competitive,” Betsy said. “I don’t think she compares herself to me, but I compare myself to her with her being younger.”
Flood is majoring in international studies with an emphasis on global resources and the environment.
“None of the things I want to do require making a lot of money,” Flood said with a laugh.
Another professional option could be running.
“Running would be really cool and I do want to keep running, but I’m just going to wait and see how this year goes,” Flood said. “I don’t want to force anything or if it’s not an opportunity, then I’m going to have to give it up. But I would be blessed if that was something that came across.”