By MAGGIE WESLEY
IOWA CITY, Iowa — For the senior out of Swisher, Iowa, the 2019-20 track season was just the beginning. Tysen VanDraska had plans that included the NCAA Championships and U.S. Olympic Trials. However, that all came to a halt on March 12.
“I was shocked, obviously,” said VanDraska. “My initial reaction was to feel bad for everyone in New Mexico who didn’t get to finish the indoor season at nationals.”
VanDraska set personal bests in every event he ran during the indoor season. At the Meyo Invite in South Bend, Indiana, on Feb. 8, he ran the 800 meters in 1:49.49, a mark that placed him at No. 10 on Iowa’s all-time list.
On March 30, the NCAA extended eligibility for student-athletes that were impacted by COVID-19. This sparks the question of who will come back. VanDraska decided his journey at Iowa wasn’t finished yet.
“I really didn’t know what to think,” VanDraska said. “Then, I had to decide if I wanted to come back next year or not. Ultimately, I decided to come back next year because I didn’t want it to end that way. I didn’t want it to be taken away from me.”
VanDraska is completing his spring academic semester online in Iowa City. This is his Hawkeye Shakeout.
How would you describe your senior indoor season?
“It was a pretty good season. I was earning PRs in all the events that I ran. My ultimate goal was to get to nationals which did not happen. Another goal of mine was making the final and contributing points at the Big Ten Indoor Championships, which I did. Getting sixth there wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but it was still one of my best indoor seasons.”
What is your favorite moment from your Hawkeye career?
“My unforgettable moment as a Hawkeye would be winning the Big Ten Outdoor Championship title last year.”
Have you continued to train during this time?
“I have continued to train. It’s been tough because both of our tracks are closed so when the weather is not ideal you can’t train inside. I train for a couple hours a day. It’s just enough to get some exercise in and out of the house. Also, training on my own is a lot harder than with my teammates. It’s been a big adjustment for me.”
How has school been going?
“School hasn’t been too hard for me. I had a really easy semester since it was supposed to be my last semester so going to online classes hasn’t been too bad for me.”
What have you been doing during the quarantine?
“During quarantine, I haven’t really done much. I’ve watched some movies with my roommates and hung out with them. I think training is something that keeps me busy and is helpful to keep me from going stir crazy.”
What are your expectations for your final outdoor season in 2021?
“For my extra outdoor season, I want to keep the same goals I had this year. I want to make it to nationals and with the Olympics being pushed to next year, I want to make it to the trials.”