Most athletes set goals to start their seasons.
Some set goals that are easily attainable to help build their confidence, and others dream big hoping to leave their names in the record books.
Junior runner Katie Nowak has accomplished both in the short amount of time the track and field team has been in season.
Her success started at the Iowa State Holiday Preview where she won the individual title in the mile run with a time of 5 minutes and 1.05 seconds.
Next, at the Panther Open, Nowak competed in the 1,000-meter run and won her second title. She finished the race in 2:53.11, more than 9 seconds ahead of the next runner.
In her return to Iowa State the following weekend, Nowak again competed in the mile run, this time breaking the school record en route to her third consecutive individual title.
Nowak shaved more than 10 seconds off her season-opening mile time and finished at 4:50.88, breaking former All-American Mary Ellen Hill’s record of 4:53.16.
Nowak credited the addition of plyometrics to her workout as a possible reason for her early season success, but said she had other ideas as well.
“This is the first time I haven’t been injured in over a year,” she said.
Nowak has struggled with injury throughout her running career.
She was forced to red-shirt her freshman track and field season because of health issues and now has another year of eligibility remaining.
Because of that, Nowak red-shirted this season in cross country.
“Coach [David Beauchem] and I decided that it was a good time,” she said. “Especially if I was going to be here for a fifth year, that I have my whole fifth year to compete.”
Beauchem said he thinks Nowak has a lot of potential.
“[She] has finally been able to train intensely and stay healthy,” he said. “I think her best performances are still to come this spring.”
Although Nowak practiced with the team all season, she wasn’t put through the pressures of competing in meets, leaving her fresh for the track and field season.
Nowak hasn’t had a lot of time to rest throughout her running career.
Picking up the sport in sixth grade, she has devoted a lot of time to athletics.
Her freshman year of high school, Nowak played on the volleyball team and was a diver, along with competing on the track and field team.
Sophomore year, she decided to give up volleyball and run cross country, eventually decided running was something she wanted to do at the next level.
“I liked doing it,” she said. “I like the team atmosphere, and it was something that I was excelling in.”
Her next choice was deciding where she would run.
After receiving multiple Div. I offers, the Ohio native decided to come to the Hilltop.
“I liked the balance of academic and athletics,” she said. “I liked the team environment at Bradley.”
The mechanical engineering major has accomplished a lot since coming to Bradley and set a goal to make it to the NCAA Regionals in the 1,500- meter run.
“Then, I guess get out of there, to nationals,” she said.
Beauchem said he believes in her.
“She has some high goals, but I think she is capable of reaching them,” he said.
As Nowak gets closer to graduation she is not sure what her future holds, but the runner said she knows one thing for sure.
“No matter what I’ll always be running,” she said.