A Comeback Larger Than Himself

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — DeJuan Frye enters his final track season as a Hawkeye with a new perspective.

The senior 400-meter runner from Lacey, Washington, sparked the racing community when he ran a new personal best Jan. 25 at the Rod McCravy Memorial in Lexington, Kentucky. With travel difficulties an issue for some of his fellow teammates, Frye responded by taking first place in the 400 meters (47.16), joining Iowa’s all-time top 10 list at No. 9.

“It was about staying consistent with the little stuff,” said Frye. “The whole week leading up to the meet, I was feeling fantastic. I was sleeping, eating, and training well. It all manifested into something I’ve been working on.”

This was the first road meet for Frye since the 2018 NCAA Championships. In September of 2019, Frye lost his father. Adding an injury to that, and a cumulation of other things, Frye decided to take the year off and redshirt. With the help of his mother and assistant coach Jason Wakenight, Frye was able to stay stable through this life-altering time.

“I broke down and my grades started to slip,” said Frye. “Through it all, my biggest supporter and the person that pushes me the most at Iowa is coach Wakenight. He just knows so much about me and he has been there from the beginning, through my lows to my highs. He was there when I found out my dad passed, but also when we won the Big Ten Outdoor Championship.”

From his training to his diet, Frye is mentally and physically preparing to get back to where he left off in 2018. So, when he ran a 47.16 in the 400 meters just three weeks into the indoor season, he knew
what this year had in store.

“When I crossed the finish line and it said 47.16, that was big,” he said. “In my past years, I wouldn’t run that fast of a time until Big Ten Indoors. This whole time I’ve been trying to run that time, so it was just a big step toward the direction I want to go, especially being off that whole year.”

The two-time All- American looks for a bright 2020 season as he completes his final lap.

“I haven’t made a Big Ten final yet,” Frye said. “I’ve only been able to score through the 4×4. This year, I’m hoping to score through the 400 and contribute to a Big Ten title. It would be a blessing if I made the NCAA Championships. If I don’t, I won’t be too hard on myself. I feel like I’ll be able to make that top 16.”

With the curiosity and excitement growing around what Frye will accomplish this season, he stays focused and takes it day-by-day.

“I think about the future step-by-step,” he said. “First, I want to graduate. That is a big thing for my mom and me. She just had a baby in December, so this year has been about focusing on how I can be the best big brother I can be.”