By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The days of University of Iowa senior distance runner Andrea Shine scouting opponents via the Track & Field Results Reporting System (TFFRS) are over. Shine still respects all the potential front-runners in every race, it’s just that now she knows she belongs with any lead pack.
Winning does that for runners and winning is something Shine has done in both meets of the 2018 cross country season. At the Hawkeye Invitational on Aug. 31 in Iowa City, Shine won the 4 kilometer race by 13 seconds; at the Woody Greeno Invitational on Sept. 15 in Lincoln, Nebraska, Shine won the 6 kilometer race by 1 ½ seconds over Michigan’s Hannah Meier, who was a member of the Wolverines’ 2018 Big Ten championship indoor distance medley relay.
“In the past I held myself back in a race because I would recognize a girl who has great credentials and tell myself she is too fast for where I am now,” Shine said. “This year I take it in stride that I am just as strong as any girl on the course and I am not running in fear of the competition.”
The two individual victories give Shine a grand total of two for her collegiate career. But cut her some slack; it was less than 10 years ago when Shine had to stop and walk in order to finish a mile in physical education class in her home town of Crystal Lake, Illinois.
Soon after, she joined her mother in frequent run-walks. Then Shine became passionate about running and yearned for more. It wasn’t until her senior year of high school that she turned in breakout performances, otherwise she said, no Division I program would consider having her as a walk-on.
“A mile is a breeze, now I do 70 a week,” Shine said in her usual straightforward but soft-spoken manner. “I had momentum after my senior year of high school and I had more ability than my credentials showed. On paper, it didn’t look like I was one of the top girls, but through hard work and continued success, I was consistently in the top five on the team.”
Now she is a solid No. 1 for the Hawkeyes.
“It’s not an accident,” said Randy Hasenbank, Iowa’s head cross country coach. “The public can see it on race day, we see it every day, so it doesn’t surprise me when she goes out and executes like she did the first couple meets.
“There is a process and it is fun to watch because it reminds you how much development someone has in them if you get the right person with the right mind who is motivated, goal-oriented, and focused on being successful.”
The competition Friday at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational will be the strongest Shine has faced since finishing 29th in last fall’s Big Ten Championship and 20th in the NCAA Midwest Regional. Thirty-three women’s teams are expected, including nationally ranked Brigham Young, California, Furman, and the host Irish.
There will be plenty of blue chip individuals competing as well, including Shine.
“To be a strong competitor, you need to believe in yourself more than anyone else does,” Shine said. “That is the point I am getting to, where I’m not relying on other people validating my running. I am here to be the best version of myself I can be.”
And that doesn’t necessarily mean you cross the line in first place.
“Winning is always the goal, but some of your best collegiate races will be when you get your butt whooped,” Shine said. “Rather than going into this trying to win, I am trying to run as fast as possible. Those girls at the front of the pack will help me do that, so whether I win isn’t as important as having a good fitness experience.
“I would take running an incredibly strong race with the top competitors in the nation over winning a small meet where I don’t get to fully show what I’m capable of.”
The 63rd annual Joe Piane Notre Dame Invitational will be held on Burk Golf Course in Notre Dame, Indiana. The 5 kilometer women’s “blue” race begins at approximately noon (CT). It will be Iowa’s third test of its six-event regular season. Postseason begins Oct. 28 with the Big Ten Championships in Lincoln, Nebraska.
“I think she can battle in the upper echelon in the Big Ten and battle for a spot on the national starting line,” Hasenbank said. “There is not much margin for error, but she will be one of those girls in the mix.”