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Persevering On and Off the Track
Running in his final year of collegiate track & field eligibility, Liberty redshirt senior Isaac Wendland is looking to punctuate an impressive career at this weekend's Big South Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Wendland will be looking to capture his first Big South individual title this weekend, competing in the 800 and 1,500-meter races.
Feeling confident heading into the races, Wendland understands that this time may be a little different. Racing four times in two days, he will be looking for a different way to cool down and warm up between races.
"Normally after a race, I cool down for 20 minutes," Wendland stated. "I also like to warm up an hour before each race. So if I were to do my normal routine, I would have no time to recover between the 1,500 and 800." The finals for the two races are separated by an hour and a half Saturday afternoon and will pose a challenge for the redshirt senior. "I am feeling confident and fit but know they are going to be a couple of tough races."
Winning a championship is something Wendland became accustomed to throughout his high school career. While competing for Lighthouse Academy in Floyd, Iowa, the runner was the first male in Iowa history to win the state 1,600-meter title four years in a row.
"This was always a dream of mine since I saw my two older brothers compete in this event at state," Wendland recalled. "Winning it my freshman year was great, but it was getting it those next three years that really counted."
The redshirt senior is a five-time All-Big South performer, having finished as the conference runner-up three times and placing third twice. When asked what his favorite races have been while wearing a Liberty Flames uniform, Wendland had this to say, "My favorite races at Liberty have always come at our very own Twilight meet. This meet is where I have run my PRs in the 800 (1:50.22) and 1,500 (3:47.12). The sun setting over the Blue Ridge Mountains with the cool summer air blowing in always gets a runner's blood ready to race."
Wendland's time at Liberty has not been without adversity. While in the midst of a very promising indoor track & field season in 2012, he broke his foot. Warming up for a race, Wendland said he came to a point to where he was unable to even walk and knew something was wrong.
Feeling compelled to pray for freedom prior to the race, Wendland said he could feel God speaking to him and felt great warming up. A broken foot was the last thing on Wendland's mind. A broken foot can hamper anyone, especially a runner. However, the redshirt senior saw his injury as a learning tool, a blessing.
"After about a week I realized once again that God's plan is so much greater than mine," Wendland stated. "Today I can honestly say that I have much more freedom in running than I would have had if I simply ran an amazing race that day."
While it has been a long road back, the runner says his injury as led to a freedom he never would have imagined. "As weird as it is for a runner to say, I am thankful for when I broke my foot."
One of Wendland's best moments while attending Liberty University came off the track when he married his wife, Libby, on June 27, 2009. Wendland met his wife in the eighth grade and said to himself, "I am going to marry her." Being turned down five times did not stop Wendland's pursuit of his future wife. Libby finally said yes and since then Wendland has not let her go. The Hawkeye State native feels that getting married to his number one fan and motivator has brought new life to running and made it fun for him once again.
A pastoral leadership major, Wendland is set to graduate in May. He is currently a full-time youth director at Brookhill Wesleyan Church in Forest, Va. Wendland and his wife are currently looking for a home in the area to settle into and look forward to what God has in store for their future.
Written by Danny Smith, an intern in the Liberty University Athletics Communications office