IOWA CITY, Iowa — Sophomore Payton Wensel came off a high after finishing her second indoor season as a Hawkeye. Her performance at the Big Ten Indoor Championship was a surprise to even her. With hopes to continue the momentum through the outdoor season, Wensel quickly learned things will have to wait until 2021.
“I first found out when I was in my apartment with my roommate and teammate Sydney Winger,” said Wensel. “We were both taken aback and didn’t initially believe it. Once it set in, it became very emotional. My thought at the time was how I finished Big Tens Indoor really strong. I was happy with where I was. I thought I was progressing really well and that would carry over to outdoor. Not even getting a chance to prove that was really disappointing.”
The Iowa native placed fifth in the 600 meters with a collegiate-best 1:29.86 at the Big Ten Indoor Championships on February 29. That time ranks sixth all-time at Iowa. She ran the third leg on the team-leading 4×4 meter relay that placed fourth at the conference meet. Wensel helped Iowa earn a total of nine points at the Big Ten Indoor Championships.
“My 600 at Big Ten Indoors this year was a memorable moment for me,” said Wensel. “I wasn’t expected to score any points. I was running a consistent time all season so it didn’t look like I would drop in time at all, but I was able to finish fifth. That was a huge deal for me because I was not only able to contribute to the team on the relays but as an individual. That was my goal at the very beginning so to be able to do that was really cool.”
Wensel has her plate full during the quarantine. She is majoring in Environmental Planning and earning a certificate in Sustainability. When she is caught up on school, she spends her free time training. This is Payton Wensel’s Hawkeye Shakeout.
What is your dream job?
“My dream job is to be a sustainability manager. I would work with businesses to help them reduce their carbon footprint. It could be changing their business with small things or implanting environmental- friendly technology into their buildings and way of production. It would be a good step in working towards the bigger picture of reducing carbon emissions.”
What does quarantine look like for you?
“Homework has been a major part of my time. I would like to get stuff done right away when it’s assigned so I don’t have to worry about it. I have been binging All American on Netflix. It is addictive. Between training and school-work, I haven’t had time to do much else.”
How have you adjusted to online school?
“Online school is going as well as it can be. I took a lot of online classes in previous semesters, so I am used to the format of them and the flexibility of deadlines. It is definitely different when it’s two classes verses five. It’s been quite the adjustment.”
How is training going?
“For training, I’m a lot more flexible with it than when I was in school. If something does not feel right, I don’t push it. I try to keep it relatively similar so the transition into next year is not super difficult. I took some time off from training, but I got back to lifting pretty quickly. There wasn’t a long break for me; I wanted to get back out there.”
What is a goal of yours for next season?
“The 400 hurdles was my focus for outdoors. I was really disappointed for how my season went in that event last year so I would really like to see a drop in that time. Last year, I ran 61 and my goal coming into college was to run under 60. I was really close in high school, so I want to get to 59 or 58. For the 4×4, a big goal is to be a part of that group. While on the 4×4, I want to run 53 more consistently than I did last because I think that would be a big contribution to the team.”