Olympics possible for Lettow

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Former Jennies track and field athlete Lindsay Lettow competing in the 60m hurdles at the Mule Relays Feb. 1. (Photo by ANDREW MATHER, Photo Editor)
Former Jennies track and field athlete Lindsay Lettow competing in the 60m hurdles at the Mule Relays Feb. 1. (Photo by ANDREW MATHER, Photo Editor)

Story by JASON STRICKLAND, Sports Editor—
Former UCM track and field athlete Lindsay Lettow won four national championships, broke nine school records and received 16 All-American honors, but her track and field journey continues on a larger stage than UCM.
Lettow competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials last summer, but was unable to qualify for the Olympics after an eighth-place finish in the heptathlon.
The top three qualify. The heptathlon includes the 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200m run, long jump, javelin throw and 800m run.
“It was very exciting to be competing alongside the most elite women in the U.S. and world class athletes, as well,” Lettow said. “In a lot of ways it felt like a really fun way to end my career as a collegiate athlete, but in another way it also felt like a fun, exciting new beginning to continue post-collegiately.”
Lettow still trains with track and field co-head coach Kip Janvrin while she studies exercise science as a UCM graduate student.
“He’s been so gracious to let me stay and keep working with me on technical things, running events, running workouts, everything,” Lettow said. “He’s my coach for everything,” she laughed.
Janvrin, who competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, said he spends about six to eight hours a week training Lettow at the Multipurpose Building.
“I’m pleased with her hurdles and her jumping events,” he said. “The two events she struggles the most with are the shot put and javelin. It’s mostly technique, some is strength issues and physical issues that we are trying to fix.”
Iowa Connection
Lettow still competes unattached at collegiate meets. The major events she plans to compete in are the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships March 1-2 in Albuquerque, N.M., and the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships June 20-23 in De Moines, Iowa, which is fewer than 10 miles from Urbandale, Iowa, where Lettow is from.
Janvrin is from Guthrie Center, Iowa, which is how she found out about him. Lettow said she visited seven schools ranging from Division I to Division III, but UCM just felt right for her.
“I came here (UCM) because I had heard about Kip as a great combined events coach,” Lettow said. “I knew that’s want I wanted to do. I felt really comfortable with the location and with the size of the school. I knew it was a place I could train really hard in a really great atmosphere. There wouldn’t be a ton of pressure on me to perform as opposed to some big D-I schools.”
Lettow said she did not have any big expectations as a track and field athlete coming into Central.
“I wanted to earn a degree and kind of get away from home a little bit,” she said. “I just wanted to grow as a person and continue training. I didn’t have any dead-set goals to be a national champion or do anything like that. I just wanted to work really hard, and I knew I’d have the potential to go pretty far.”
Starting track and field
Before coming to Central, Lettow was in club track when she was eight years old, and continued with it through high school.
“My parents kind of signed me up for it,” Lettow said with a laugh. “I was eight. I didn’t want to run, of course.”
It became enjoyable the next year.
“My parents had me go out a second year, and I started to pick up long jump and pick up a few events and find a little bit of success in them, so that kind of got my interest going,” Lettow said.
As time went on, Lettow kept adding events.
“Slowly but surely, I picked up more and more events and knew I wanted to do the heptathlon. I knew I wanted to do everything together.”
Off the track
Lettow doesn’t just do everything in track and field. She had a 3.84 GPA as an undergrad, and has done a lot of volunteer work.
She has volunteered at nursing and veteran’s homes in Warrensburg, and was a member of the Jennies Literacy Team, which reads to local elementary schools.
“The coolest thing as a student-athlete was doing Literacy Team,” Lettow said. “I’ve always liked being super involved. I’ve always wanted to do little things here and there when I could. It was fun.”
Lettow works at Share & Care in Warrensburg, which provides services for people with developmental disabilities.
She was recognized for her athletic ability, school work and community involvement with the 2013 NCAA Today’s Top 10 Award. The ceremony was Jan. 18 during the NCAA Convention in Grapevine, Texas.
“I was super excited about it and really honored,” Lettow said. “And after meeting everyone, the other nine awardees, I felt really humbled as well.”
Janvrin did not know much about the award when he found out Lettow won it, but realized its significance after seeing Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III had earned it, too.
“I said, ‘Man this is a phenomenal award,’” Janvrin said. “I realized she was in pretty elite company at that point.”
While at Central, Lettow won the Dr. Peggy Martin Award, which is given to UCM’s top female student-athlete, and the Ken B. Jones Award, which is given to the top female MIAA student-athlete.
Lettow said the NCAA Today’s Top 10 Award was her favorite.
“I would have never imagined at any point through my undergrad training that I would ever end up with an honor like that,” she said.
Olympic possibility
As for her current expectations as a track and field athlete, Lettow said the Olympics would be nice, but it isn’t a top priority.
“It’s an outside goal,” she said. “I wouldn’t say I have a main focus to qualify for the Olympics, but I feel like I’ve always run track as long as I can remember. I really love it, and I’m passionate about it, so I know I need to keep going. I hope that I can go further, and of course I hope to be in a position to maybe qualify for the Olympics.”
She would need to finish in the top three in the heptathlon at the 2016 trials to qualify.
Janvrin said that could require a score of 6200, which is about 400 points more than what Lettow has achieved.
“I’m not going to say, ‘no she can’t ever get there’ because I know how hard she works and how determined she is,” Janvrin said. “For me, I have to keep her motivated. I have to keep her hungry, and I have to keep getting her better.”
That determination has paid off so far for Lettow, and seeing that happen is what Lettow said is one of her biggest satisfactions of track and field, along with setting an example for others.
“I guess a big satisfaction in competition is when I have a good race and knowing that my hard work in practice has paid off,” she said. “Knowing that you’ve been a role model for others, as well.”