Hawkeye Senior Spotlight: Lake Kwaza

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.


EUGENE, Ore. — If you want to feast during the 4×100-meter relay, you better make sure to set the table over the first 100 meters.

That hasn’t been a problem for the University of Iowa women’s track and field team that boasts senior Lake Kwaza, one of the best opening legs in the nation.

Twice this season the Hawkeyes reset the school 4×100-meter relay record and both times it was Kwaza providing a fast pace out of the blocks. In fact, Kwaza has led off the top five 4×100-meter relay performances in UI history with times ranging from 44.62 to 44.04 seconds. The Hawkeyes had the sixth-fastest qualifying time out of the NCAA West Preliminary at 44.59.

“We work on my drive phase a lot,” said Kwaza, who will make her second trip to an NCAA Championships from June 8-11 in Eugene, Oregon. “It is basically just getting a good start, attacking, and catching people.”

Kwaza came to the University of Iowa from Sycamore, Illinois. As a freshman in 2013, the Hawkeye women finished 11th at the Big Ten Conference indoor and outdoor championships. This season Iowa finished eighth indoor and sixth during outdoor.

“MonTayla (Holder) and I struggled during our freshman year buying into the vision because we didn’t see it at first,” Kwaza said. “But we trusted coach and built that relationship with the team and the coaches. We didn’t give up.”

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Fittingly, Kwaza will conclude her collegiate career at the NCAA Championships at Hayward Field. She will lead off the 4×100 semifinal at 6:32 p.m. (CT) on Thursday, June 9.

“It is exciting and overwhelming just to be at that meet with the top athletes in the nation,” Kwaza said.

The 4×100 final will be contested Saturday, June 11 at 5:32 p.m. It will be the final time Kwaza competes in a Hawkeye uniform.

“It hasn’t hit me yet, but I know once I step on the track for the last time with the uniform on it will be emotional,” Kwaza said.

Adding fuel to the emotional fire will be when Kwaza reflects on her Hawkeye accomplishments. As a sophomore in 2014, she led off the 4×100 relay and along with teammates Elexis Guster, Holder, and Brittany Brown, won the Big Ten Conference championship in 44.62. That group sprinted to second-team All-America status at Eugene with a time of 45.02. During her senior indoor season, Kwaza won a Big Ten title in the 60-meter dash, setting a school record in 6.33.

“Lake has a great head on her shoulders and doesn’t have a big ego,” said Joey Woody, UI director of track and field. “She is a quiet girl who uses her performances to speak for her. We have been blessed to have her as part of our women’s sprint program and she has been a great mentor for all of our sprinters.”

Kwaza is second on Iowa’s all-time performance list in the 100 dash (11.40) and fourth in the 200 (23.17).

Kwaza earned a bachelor’s degree in recreation and sport management with a certificate in entrepreneurship and a minor in human relations. She will remain at the UI, attending graduate school and completing an internship with event management.

“I hope people remember me as a leader, someone that people can count on to run a 4×1 or somebody they can come talk to,” Kwaza said. “Somebody who helped start this program to become what it is today and for the future.”